Monday, May 11, 2020

New Hull Cleaner Fights Two Environmental Battles at Once Says Manufacturer

Company Seeking Trial Fleets for Remora Style System
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – WORLDWIDE – Biofouling is a very hot topic as it hits two environmental targets simultaneously, hull borne alien marine organisms have the potential to wreak havoc in established ecosystems in foreign waters, whilst the traditional method of preventing build up using hull coatings often so toxic they devastate native marine species is simply no longer acceptable. Furthermore the build-up of organisms results in poorer performance from the vessel itself which uses extra fuel to compensate.

In recent years established producers of anti-fouling hull coatings have worked to produce less damaging products which prohibit the growth of unwanted species but have witnessed the growth of mechanical hull cleaning systems eliminating the problem of dry docking a vessel to scrub the hull clean.

Now Jotun, one of the best known companies when it comes to the coating industry has opted to make a major shift and produce a product that not only mechanically cleans the hull, but negates the problem of mooring up whilst cleaning takes place, acting much as a remora does when accompanying a swimming shark.

The new product, christened Jotun Hull Skating Solutions, or HSS for short, combines remotely operated robotic technology with a special antifouling coating in a system that the company says offers customers ‘always clean hulls’ even for the most challenging operations and environments.

The company says biofouling harms all of shipping’s stakeholders, from owners, to society and the oceans themselves. The accumulation of aquatic organisms on otherwise smooth vessel hulls leads to increased frictional drag, resulting in significant vessel speed loss and inefficiency. As a consequence, more fuel has to be consumed to maintain speed and manoeuvrability, meaning higher costs and greater emissions, the last thing both ship owners and the natural world needs. According to the IMO, world fleet fuel consumption could fall by as much as 10% if hulls and propellers can be kept as clean as possible.

Jotun says its response sets a new standard in antifouling innovation with the key aspect of the multi-faceted solution being the HullSkater. This remotely operated robot stays with the vessel at all times, lodged in a custom housing on deck when not in use, roaming the vessel on magnetic wheels when operated through Jotun’s dedicated control centres via 4G connection. Jotun is now in the final stages of commercialisation with HSS and is currently recruiting selected owners to be the first to benefit from the game changing solution.

The compact unit, imagine a robotic lawnmower, only one that’s very good at diving, is equipped with high definition cameras and sensors, helping to monitor potential biofouling and collect data, while also empowering the operator to clean to a standardised level of excellence, every time. This is conducted with the HullSkater’s built in brushes ensuring zero damage to the vessel and its specially developed Jotun SeaQuantum Skate coating. The whole process takes between just two and eight hours, dependent on vessel size and condition.

HSS, which has been piloted and vessel tested for over two years, is tailored for vessels facing the greatest biofouling challenges. It offers ship owners in this niche unlimited idle days, minimal reactive cleaning requirements, an expected maximum speed loss of just 1.0% over a standard five-year dry docking period, and a minimum fuel cost saving of 12.5% (compared to a vessel with typical average performance). In other words, beyond the IMO’s 10% figure, even for vessels facing grave biofouling issues.

Geir Axel Oftedahl, Business Development Director at Jotun says that there are many excellent antifouling coatings on the market at present, including Jotun ones, but that ships facing the greatest biofouling challenges will still require periodic reactive cleaning. And this, he adds, lacks standardisation, meaning varying quality from location to location and operator to operator.

As a result cleaning can severely damage coatings and assets, with practices involving outdated equipment such as hard brushes and is potentially very damaging to the environment, with the dislodged life forms simply drifting down to set up a new home in a new ecosystem. Oftedahl’s colleague Tom H. Evensen, Sales Director for Hull Performance Solutions agrees, adding:

”We can catch biofouling at a very early stage, slime or biofilm, and ensure ‘always clean hulls’, with minimal speed loss, for our global customer base. If all vessels in our targeted segments converted to HSS, it would result in a CO2 emissions reduction of at least 40 million tonnes per year, not to mention huge benefits in terms of operational expenditures.”

A short video of the system can be seen here.