In light of the calls for environmental responsibility levied at the commercial shipping industry and, by proxy, any industry that utilises large oceangoing vessels, strides are being taken by the coatings sector to develop anti-fouling solutions that are both effective and environmentally benign.

Unlike anti-fouling, fouling release coatings harbour properties that prevent against the attachment of fouling organisms. Hempel, the Danish coatings specialist, has developed HEMPASIL X3+, a biocide free fouling release coating with a silicone hydrogel base.

A fouling release coating is made from solid low surface energy silicon; Hempel has improved on this technology with the addition of an invisible hydrogel microlayer. The hydrogel is formed at the interface between the coating’s surface and the sea water.

Fouling organisms, such as proteins and bacteria, treat the hydrogel microlayer as a liquid, making it nearly impossible for them to attach to the hull. If, however, the vessel remains idle for long periods of time, fouling organisms may settle on the hull’s surface, but they cannot attach as firmly.

Once the vessel is underway again the fouling organisms are released from the hull in a self-cleaning process caused by the poor initial purchase. Fouling release coatings release no biocides into the marine environment.

For more information concerning the benefits of fouling release coatings when compared with traditional anti-fouling methods, click here.