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Anna Yunnie / PML Apps

Next generation biofouling breakthrough

24 January 2018

PML Applications’ scientists have been hard at work on a project to re-introduce in-water hull cleaning to the UK.

Biofouling is a major concern for fleets and shipping. A build-up of marine life, such as barnacles, on the hull of a vessel increases friction between the hull and the water. This reduced hull efficiency either slows vessels down, thus increasing travel time, or they maintain the same speed but with considerably increased associated fuel costs and emissions.

In-water hull cleaning to remove biofouling was banned by UK ports and harbours eight years ago. Open-circuit systems can release biocides from the hull coatings being cleaned, polluting water and sediments, and can also inadvertently introduce non-native species into the environment. 

PML Applications has been working on the regulatory process to re-introduce in-water hull cleaning to the UK with next generation closed-circuit systems that capture chemical and biological debris. This would be better for the local environment, and will once more allow vessels to clean their hulls and maintain maximum efficiency on their ocean travels, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Anna Yunnie, of PML Applications’ Centre for Marine Biofouling and Corrosion, has recently presented in Melbourne at the 3rd ANZPAC Workshop on Biofouling Management for Sustainable Shipping.

“Having attended, presented and taught at several conferences and workshops over the past 2 years, it has become very clear that there is a real desire for the re-introduction of in-water hull cleaning for commercial vessels,” said Anna. “Full-capture, or closed circuit systems, could be the answer to everyone’s problem: cleaner, faster ships, lower fuel consumption and lower emissions, as well as a healthy environment and additional revenue for local business. A rare case of win-win!”

PML Applications is continuing to work with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Institute of Marine Engineering Science & Technology (IMarEST) biofouling management expert group (BMEG), which is co-chaired by Dr Tom Vance of the Centre for Marine Biofouling and Corrosion in PML Applications. 

For more information, you can watch Anna's presentation here