Reducing Drag on Ships and Saving Millions

Discover how AkzoNobel's multi-disciplinary research team worked with Newcastle University to create a patented new fluoropolymer that qualifies for CO2 credits, bringing added financing and environmental benefits.

Reducing Drag on Ships and Saving Millions - Alpha Moment

Challenge

Creating a Coating That Prevents Bacterial Slime Build-up on Ships
Shipping vessels that power their way across oceans have large fuel costs, so preventing hydrodynamic drag caused by organisms that attach to their hulls can save money. AkzoNobel had already created non-biocidal foul-release coatings that prevented the build-up of weeds and barnacles, but they discovered that another complex organism needed to be dealt with: slime.

The company’s multi-disciplinary research team (including marine biologists, polymer scientists and hydrodynamicists) wondered how they could find the right technology to defeat the thousands of different species of this biofilm, particularly with so many options to screen and a lengthy testing process to deal with.

Solution

Developing an Innovative Process and Polymer
In an innovative one-two punch, AkzoNobel worked with Newcastle University to establish a high-throughput screening process that allowed them to rapidly test 170 slime-resistant technologies, narrowing it down to the most promising options in just four to six weeks (testing normally takes up to a year). They learned from this that the properties needed to give slime release were a balance between the hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity of the surface of a coating – knowledge that they then used to develop a patented new fluoropolymer.

The polymer was made into a commercial product, and now the coating known as Intersleek 1100SR has been applied to hundreds of vessels, which are able to stave off slime while traversing the seas.


Impact

Saving on Fuel and Gaining CO2 Credits
Studies estimate that slime costs the shipping industry more than $28 billion a year – and that it results in 134 tons of extra CO2 emissions annually. In addition to its chemistry advancements, AkzoNobel also made a business innovation with this project, ensuring that Intersleek 1100SR qualifies for CO2 credits by establishing the first methodology to be approved for carbon credits in the marine industry.

These carbon credits can bring extra finance to shipping companies while also demonstrating their concern for the environment. Between the credits and the reduced fuel costs, Intersleek 1100SR can save millions per ship.

 


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