Antifouling systems for ships are not new – or even relatively new. The problems caused by marine biofouling has been recognised since the very earliest days of sailing ships explains Marianna Sioni, Group Product Manager Marine, Hempel.

Early traders protected their wooden vessels with copper sheathing, tar and wax. They would also beach them periodically and scrape down the hull – today’s equivalent of hull cleaning.

With new methods came the use of toxic antifoulants such as lead, arsenic and mercury to control fouling, but these were banned long ago due to their adverse impact on the environment. Self-polishing systems were then introduced, with many incorporating the tin-based antifoulant tributyltin (TBT), which were later phased out due to their environmental impact. Since the banning of TBT in 2001, the coatings industry has focused on developing antifouling solutions with a minimised environmental impact.

Antifouling coatings have evolved considerably over the years and Hempel, the worldwide coatings manufacturer, has been at the forefront since 1915. Significantly, the company launched the world’s first antifouling coating for ships hulls back in 1917. Since then, technology has advanced considerably and there is now a range of antifouling coating solutions on the market that comply with strict environmental requirements and which meet the varied needs of shipowners worldwide.

Read more in the latest issue of PCE-International