Marine Shipping

Biofouling Challenges

Invasive species in international waters.

  • Invasive Species
  • Ballast Water
  • Biofouling
  • Life Below the Surface

The past three decades have seen a fourfold increase in marine shipping traffic as the demand for global trade continues to grow. But ships transiting the ocean from port to port can arrive carrying more than just their intended cargo.

Without careful measures, ships can unintentionally transport foreign species to new environments – where without natural predators, these “invasive” species can threaten local ecosystems and damage the environment, the economy and human health.

Every day, commercial vessels from all over the world enter coastal waters, rivers and lakes carrying goods to and from the country. Each of these vessels has the potential to cause harm by unintentionally introducing invasive species.

Bottom paint is the new bottom line.

Once a surface, such as a ship’s hull, enters a marine environment, it is traditionally rapidly colonized by a range of species. In addition to transporting invasive species, biofouling negatively impacts air quality and fuel efficiency by increasing a ship’s resistance in the water. A ship with a heavy coating of slime can require up to 38% more energy to maintain speed than a vessel with a clean hull.[1]

Any surface submerged in seawater is subject to marine organisms, including hundreds of thousands of types of bacteria, algae and molluscs. Within the shipping industry, these marine organisms are often known as fouling or biofouling. The accumulation of organic material on a surface can have serious impacts on the shipping industry.

These impacts include increased vessel fuel consumption, Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, and loss of manoeuvrability due to the deterioration of their underwater hulls. Hull deterioration occurs through coating degradation, bio-corrosion and an increase in hull roughness.

Current solutions can have adverse effects on marine life.

Antifouling coatings have been a longstanding solution to prevent the accumulation of marine organisms. They have been used extensively by the industry, and usually rely on the leaching of a toxic substance such as:

  • Copper (metallic)
  • Cuprous Oxide
  • Heavy metals (Lead)
  • Arsenic-based coatings
  • TributylTin (TBT-based compounds)

All of the above coatings, albeit at different levels, have adverse effects on aquatic life including a broad range of marine organisms such as oysters, marine mammals and fish. In January of 2008,
the International Maritime Organization (IMO) banned the use of TBT-based coatings applied to all vessel types. To combat this change, antifouling paints were made with high concentrations of
copper, leading to new environmental issues.

The increased awareness of environmental issues combined with the increase in bunker fuel price (the main source of ship fuel) due to IMO2020 (resolution to decrease sulphur content on the shipping industry) are the primary reasons for the shipping industry to search for alternative solutions.

Our new marine coating is developed for a green shipping industry.

Graphite Innovation and Technologies Inc. (GIT Inc) has developed a new marine coating that can be easily cleaned and does not require the application of primer underlayers. This composite smart coating is based on the recent advancement of nanomaterials.

Graphene is a well-known material for its high mechanical strength, low friction and incredible toughness.

GIT Inc has been working with the technology for over three years, and was able to create a hard stable surface that does not leach toxins nor micro-plastics into the ocean. The coating’s properties include a beneficial slick surface that can provide the fuel savings performance.

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