New Anticorrosion Coating Reduces Biofouling by Half

Dr. Andrew Ang (left) and Matthew Leigh (right) prepare for the on-board trials on HMAS Canberra. Photo courtesy of POIS Yuri Ramsey, Navy Imagery Unit, and the Department of Defence.

A team of researchers from Swinburne University of Technology (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) have joined forces with experts from various local agencies and organizations to develop an anticorrosion coating that prevents biofouling on ships.

Biofouling occurs when plants, animals, and other marine organisms accumulate on wetted surfaces such as ship hulls. The negative effects of biofouling include corrosion related damage and increased ship drag, which then results in the burning of additional fuel to compensate. Such issues impose a heavy cost on the global shipping industry by forcing its members to expend additional resources and repair damage to critical equipment.

The research team led by Dr. Andrew Ang, senior research engineer and member of the Swinburne Faculty of Science, Engineering & Technology, created a corrosion resistant coating that has reduced by half the biofouling of algae and barnacles on ship hydraulic components. According to Dr. Ang, the team “used a supersonic combustion flame jet, essentially a flame thrower” to apply a single layer of carbide-based coating.

This carbide-based coating was tested in over 100 trials at three field sites in Australia from 2015 to 2017. Currently, the coating is being used on a trial basis on ships that are particularly prone to biofouling and corrosion, including the HMAS Canberra, the lead helicopter dock ship of the Royal Australian Navy. Although the cost of applying the coating to entire ship hulls is prohibitive, it may be of significant benefit to the machinery of ships with propulsion or heavy lifting capabilities.

Dr. Ang and other members of the team published their findings in an article for Biofouling: the Journal of Bioadhesion and Biofilm Research.

Source: Swinburne University of Technology,