Thursday, 28 May 2020 | 23:01
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Sonihull can solve global fouling time-bomb

Friday, 03 April 2020 | 23:00

As the world's commercial marine fleet faces extended lay-ups, Sonihull is reacting to a surge in demand for low cost, low maintenance systems that can keep fouling at bay

“Market uncertainty and a drop in fleet demand, especially in the passenger carrying sectors, is leading to large numbers of commercial vessels being laid-up alongside or at anchor,” explains Darren Rowlands, CEO of Sonihull, the Coventry-based company behind a market-leading anti-fouling system. Sonihull's technology harnesses the power of ultrasound to prevent algae, weeds and molluscs form colonising man-made surfaces submerged in seawater.

“This is going to have a very detrimental impact on the condition of their hulls, seachests and raw seawater (RSW) cooling systems. Without regular use, the antifouling systems that usually protect these vessels, like anti-fouling paints and impressed-current systems, will not function and the vessels will become infested with unwanted marine growth very quickly. In warm waters this can happen within a matter of weeks,” warned Rowlands.

“Our dealers in the warm waters of Australia have already started to react to a surge in calls from fast ferry operators. They need to get their vessels protected against the rigors of an undetermined lay-up period, so that they can be reactivated quickly without a long, expensive delay in drydock to clean the hull and remove blockages from the RSW cooling systems.”

Even without the lost revenue, drydocking is a very expensive business, which is why operators do everything they can to extend their intervals. With Sonihull systems fitted, weeds mussels and barnacles will not be able to thrive and operators will be able to respond quickly to changes in vessel demand without worrying about performance, speed, fuel-consumption or engine failure due to blocked cooling pipework.

Sonihull is still providing its regular global dispatch and fitting during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is no welding or cutting required during installation and whole systems can be fitted in under a day. This really sets us apart from other systems during these times of social distancing,” added Rowlands. “Our technicians can be in and out very quickly, the job can be done at anchor or even when the vessel is operating if necessary.”

“With very low power consumption (<30 Watts for a Sonihull 8 system with eight transducers) the systems are very low maintenance, the perfect solution to a potentially crippling fouling epidemic.”

Background
Marine bio fouling (seaweed, barnacles and mussels) costs the shipping industry over $100 billion every year. When fouling builds up on a ship's hull – it can increase drag and fuel costs by up to 60%. When it builds up in raw-water cooling-systems – it can destroy the main engine and put a ship out of commission.

Sonihull has harnessed the power of ultrasound and its systems are already saving up to 90% of capital and MRO costs in offshore box cooler installations, compared to Impressed Current antifouling systems.

Currently, 95% of all antifouling systems rely on the release of toxins into the environment – this is not environmentally sustainable. The clock is ticking because the IMO (International Maritime Organisation, the world's maritime regulatory body) is legislating towards ‘zero harm' solutions. Sonihull technology has zero biocides, zero poisons are leached into the oceans, zero microplastics are shed from ablative coatings and it has zero impact on other marine life.

The Science
Microscopic ultrasound-induced cavitation disrupts the first stages of the food chain without damaging the surface being protected. This action prevents the build-up of algae, slime and bigger more complex organisms on surfaces where biofouling is not wanted. The system is silent and the movement of water on the protected surface prevents the adhesion of juvenile barnacles and mussels.

“In commercial shipping applications, operators are saving up to 90% of their capital and lifetime maintenance costs when protecting raw seawater equipment with Sonihull instead of impressed-current antifouling systems,” added Rowlands. “Sonihull is a zero-harm solution. There are no poisons, or biocides leached into the marine environment, no microplastics are shed from ablative coatings and no toxic metallic ions are left in your wake.”
Source: Sonihull

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