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Summary description of project context and objectives

Biofouling has profound effects in different branches of maritime activities. It is the major cause for maintenance expenses of any (partially) submerged man-made surface, including ship transport, buoys, aquaculture, but also membrane bioreactors and desalination units, power plants’ cooling water systems and oil pipelines. It poses also a significant problem for all the aquaculture industry, the broadest and the most documented impact being in marine finfish aquaculture. The settlement of marine invertebrates on ship hulls results in increased erosion, reduction of speed, increased fuel consumption and therefore increased air pollution and CO2 production.

The main goal of the BYEFOULING project, supported in the framework of the Ocean of Tomorrow by the European Commission, is to design, develop and upscale novel low toxic and cost-efficient environmentally friendly antifouling coatings with enhanced performance compared to currently available products. The approach in BYEFOULING is to tackle different stages of the biofouling process using innovative antifouling agents, covering surface-structured materials, protein adsorption inhibitors, quorum sensing inhibitors, natural biocides and microorganisms with antifouling properties. Encapsulation of the innovative compounds in smart nanostructured materials will be implemented to optimize coating performance and cost all along their life cycle. A proof-of-concept for the most promising candidates will be developed and demonstrators will be produced and tested on fields.

The specific objectives of BYEFOULING are to:

The project is organized in 8 work packages (WP) and is running from December 2013 to November 2017. BYEFOULING combines a multidisciplinary consortium involving 19 partners from SMEs, large companies, research organizations and universities in Europe, able to develop a full production line for new antifouling coatings. In WP1, the project is coordinated and directed according to a work plan. In WP2, novel compounds, development of interfacial microstructures, and preparation and growth of antifouling microorganisms are under investigation. In WP3 different tools are used to incorporate the new antifouling approaches into coating formulations, including encapsulation to protect compounds from the coating matrices and to enable controlled release of active species, preparation of functional fillers with hydrophobic and biocide-active functional groups, and development of waterborne coating formulations. In WP4, assessment of antifouling performance and benchmarking of the obtained systems with commercial and state-of-art technologies are carried out. Ecotoxicity measurements are performed to investigate the effect of the developed materials in the ecosystems. In WP5, relevant parameters for application of coating formulations in subsequent stages are under testing and characterization. In addition, fundamental studies on adhesion of fouling organisms and effects of fouling on biocorrosion are under investigation. In WP6, reliable methods for evaluation of drag resistance of vessel hull coatings and for the application of holistic and comprehensive assessment tools such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) are under development. In WP7, demonstration activities will be performed aiming at preparing three types of demonstrators, specifically for ships, aquaculture and buoys. To obtain enough paint and related components, up-scaling of the most promising technologies will be implemented. In WP8, the results are disseminated and exploited. SMEs and industrial partners will in particular use the developed technology to address new market areas.

Expected final results and potential impacts

The BYEFOULING project addresses high volume production of low toxic and environmentally friendly antifouling coatings for mobile and stationary maritime applications. The technology will fulfil the coating requirements as a result of the incorporation of novel antifouling agents and a new set of binders into coating formulations for maritime transportation and fishing vessels, floating devices and aquaculture. Readily available low toxic and cost-effective antifouling coatings will increase the efficiency of maritime industry and be the enabling technology to realize new products.

The potential impacts of the project can be divided into internal and external ones. Internally, academic partners (universities, research institutes) participating in BYEFOULING will introduce young researchers in an interdisciplinary field where knowledge on biology, marine sciences, chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering, and coating technology are combined to generate environmentally friendly and at same time high performance products. This is a strong positive point when considering high-level education and competitiveness of jobs in the global market. In addition, the generated knowledge will be reflected upon publications in high impact factor journals, which is always one of the main factors for assessment of public institutions when looking for funding supports. From an industrial perspective, the involved SMEs and large industries have a unique opportunity to establish transnational networking developing high-level products that can be disruptive in the global market.

Externally, the impact of BYEFOULING can be detailed for different sectors. In the ship transport sector, BYEFOULING will offer more efficient and less toxic antifouling coatings, the operation and lifecyclecosts will be significantly reduced, thereby increasing the efficiency and competitiveness of the ship transport industry. Furthermore, the project will reduce the negative impacts on the marine environment and CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. In the aquaculture sector BYEFOULING products will improve the performance of marine operations, with better growth rates, improved water quality and better control of disease vectors, reduce costs associated with copper waste disposal, enable lighter structures and improved resistance towards extreme weather and enhance the viability towards more stringent regulations on the use of biocides.

Finally, BYEFOULING is a project which opens new societal insights taking into account national and transnational objectives within EU for the forthcoming years. Specifically, it pertains to several aspects of what is called as blue growth. In this sense, BYEFOULING is targeting the generation of new materials coming directly from marine, renewable resources. On the other hand, the effect of antifouling coatings generated in BEYFOULING will have a profound impact on industrial activities directly related to the marine dimension.