Giving coatings superpowers

The future of fouling prevention has never really had a place in the pages of science fiction. Which is interesting, because we’re working on an exciting innovation which is on the verge of becoming science fact – and wouldn’t look out of place in certain comic book adventures.

Rusty surface – fouling prevention (photo)

Since early 2018, we’ve been developing revolutionary technology designed to eliminate fouling growth from the underwater surface of ocean-going vessels. The secret weapon? Ultraviolet light-emitting diodes (UV-LEDs).

The pioneering solution obtains its superpowers by combining our cutting-edge surface protection and adhesion know-how with underlying technology developed by Royal Philips. The intention is to integrate UV-LEDs in a protective coating and laminate scheme which will allow for UV light to be emitted from the vessel’s surface – providing total prevention of biofouling accumulation on the surface of the protected area.

Recent sea trials have produced impressive results, and with stage two vessel trials already underway, the project is on course to deliver a first commercially viable solution by around 2023.

The implications are huge, because biocidal-free total control of biofouling would represent a substantial economic and environmental benefit for ship owners and operators – not to mention the positive impact on our planet. All of which are inherent in our sustainable approach to doing business.

“This is an exciting project which is fully aligned with our continuous focus on innovation,” explains Klaas Kruithof, AkzoNobel’s Chief Technology Officer. “Combining our capabilities with Royal Philips’ technology will enable us to accelerate the realization of this transformative innovation, which has the potential to completely revolutionize the fouling control industry.”

Initially, the focus will be on applications for ships, yachts and offshore assets, but the project will be extended to include other surfaces and areas challenged by biofouling issues. More partners will also be joining to add essential capabilities and accelerate the development.