Saturday, 11 April 2009

Revolutionary Paintless Anti-fouling Systems for Sailboats

With the arrival of Spring and thoughts of getting out on the water - can't wait! - the other ominous thought creeping up in the back of ones mind like a dark cloud is the prospect of anti-fouling your vessel before it goes 'splash'!

Memories of blasting, scraping, sanding, taping, and then the applying of that odourous gooey largely environmentally unfriendly grey/blue gunk onto your hull come flooding back. It invariably occurs on a early Spring day with watery sun struggling through and a thin wind knifing through your ancient woollen sweater. Paint spotted and weary at days end, everyone is measurably pleased when the last roll finishes and the gear cleaned up.

These days may be numbered with the arrival of two new systems for controlling the seasons' growth on your hull.

One is based on electrolysis and is called 2B Sure, is Dutch manufactured and they have had some sensational results with trials on Dutch navigation buoys. They claim reduced fuel usage, therefore less emissions and engine wear over time. Of course, no more annual anti-fouling costs and no mess - just a quick water blast to remove any slime at the annual haul-out.

Here is an extract from the Bright Spark website

Protect your ship from organic matter with the Anti-fouling system from Bright Spark!
Bright Spark has developed an innovative Anti-fouling system that keeps your ship free from organic matters by electrolysis.

The growth of shells, mussels or barnacles on ships is a well known problem that the owners of the ships have to pay for cleaning. This applies to recreational sailing as well as for professional seafaring, because the growth of shells does not only lead to a loss in speed and therefore to higher fuel costs, but can also damage the ship itself.
Cleaning and maintenance were up to now the only (expensive) solution against organic matters on boats.

No growth of shells and other marine growth
Saves on fuel costs
No loss of speed
Lower maintenance effort and therefore lower maintenance costs
Environmentally friendly

The Anti-fouling system consists of two special mobile electrodes and one control case. Due to the interaction of copper-ions and the electric field that consists between the two electrodes, a protection zone is created. The substances created are environmentally friendly. This is tested and proven by NIOZ (Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee / Dutch Institute for Sea Research). This protection zone prevent shells and algae from sticking to the ships hull.

The system is switched on every time the yacht is lying quietly in the water.
The Anti-fouling system is easy to maintain and it can be used with all hull materials (glass, wood, metals,). The electrodes need to be exchanged every few years (depending on how often the system is used).

The system runs on 12V DC but it can be provided with an adapter so that alternative current can be used. As soon as both electrodes are in the water and the system is activated, the system starts working. On the operation display the status of the system can be metered and settings can be changed.

The second new system is from Blue and Green Marine and works on ultrasound. The following extract from their website tells you more:

Ultrasound – the next generation of antifouling:
Blue & Green Marine’s Hull Protection System is a high-tech way to keep your hull as clean as the day it was launched. It’s a simple, effective, fit-and-forget antifouling solution. It’s environmentally sound and can pay for itself within two seasons.

This next generation antifouling system surrounds your hull with a shield of ultrasound-induced cavitation, creating an environment that algae and bacteria find totally uninhabitable.

The key to its efficiency lies in the destructive power that ultrasound can have at a microscopic level. The ultrasonic transducers create a finely-tuned pulse of ultra-high frequency sound waves in the water touching the hull. These waves cause cavitation within the cell walls of the single-celled organisms that form a layer or ‘bio-film’ around all objects immersed in water.
This fierce cavitation is harmless to your gel-coat but disrupts the cells’ structure, removing the first link in the food chain, preventing larger more complex organisms from colonising any part of your hull, keel, rudder, prop-shaft, propeller, thrusters, water intakes or through-hull transducers.

Blue & Green Marine’s Hull Protection System works on any kind of GRP, aluminium, steel or ferro-cement hull and is only available through the company’s network of authorised installers. The ultrasonic transducer, which is built to exceed MOD specifications, is bonded to the inside of your hull and connected to a bulkhead control panel.

The system switches automatically between battery and shore power and has a tiny current draw of 0.06 Amps (or 60 milliamps). The unit is silent and does not interfere with any onboard electronics. The ultrasonic pulses also have no affect on your boat’s anodes, are harmless to fish and inaudible to marine mammals.

Extract articles and images courtesy of Bright Spark and Blue and Green Marine.

Prices range from USD3000 - 8000, so you will need to start saving your pennies! However, with all the environmental issues we are facing and being as time poor as we all are these days, there is no doubt that this technology is the way forward in the future. The cost will also come down as it always does with new technology.

So, relish the traditional method of hauling and antifouling your boat on a cold and blustery day in early spring as it may not be around too much longer.

You can read more about anti-fouling (in French Polynesia) in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana' downloadable from my website

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir

Blue and green marine uses one single
frequency only and this is analogue.

Impact Tec provides a digital ultrasonic system with a range from:
20kHz- up to 120 kHz. Thus about 98 %
of all algae are eliminated. And there are only 100.000 species on our planet. With a simple laptop the
frequencies may be modulated as wished.For more info contact:
George Paulos,