Fouling behavior of aged fouling release coating in underwater cleaning

S. Lin, H. Bi*, C. E. Weinell, K. Dam-Johansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Biofouling is able to attach on ship hull’s surface after a long-term sailing period and result in adverse effects on ships’ performance, such as increasing frictional resistance, greenhouse gas emission, maintenance costs, and economic losses on fuel consumption. In order to prevent biofouling, the most convenient and widely used approach is to develop novel fouling control coatings (FCCs). Among them, fouling release coatings (FRCs) attract more and more attention because of their environmental-friendly profile – avoiding the release of biocide or toxic substances into the ocean. However, the effectiveness of FRCs may diminish over time with exposure. To maintain the performance of FRCs in service, underwater cleaning technology development on fouled FRCs is becoming increasingly important for biofouling removal and coating preservation. Currently, there have been limited reports on the biofouling behavior and coating performance or condition of aged FRC surfaces undergoing underwater cleaning. This research aims to better comprehend the interaction between underwater cleaning process and aged FRCs in order to help mitigate the degradation of the FRCs in service as well as guide underwater cleaning strategy development for prolonged lifespan of marine FCCs.

In this research, a self-designed laboratory scale automated underwater cleaning system was applied to study the effect of underwater cleaning parameters (cleaning force, moving speed of cleaning brush, cleaning frequency) on the performance of a FRC aged for 2 month (short-term) and 13 month (long-term) according to fouling resistance property and cleaning efficiency. Besides, coating surface conditions, including visual appearance condition, roughness and water contact angle were evaluated in detail at the end of study. It can be found that biofouling intensity and species increased on aged FRCs over time. Enhanced fouling control properties of aged FRCs were achieved through underwater cleaning. For aged FRCs without significant damages, stronger cleaning force, slower moving speed and biweekly cleaning led to better fouling resistance. However, for aged FRCs with damages (e.g. scratches with varying depth and width), which may cause from hard fouling species trapped between brush and test surface during underwater cleaning, leading to an increased algae re-fouling. Additionally, the coating’s performance was more significantly impacted by the damages than variations in cleaning parameters. This work quantitatively and systematically evaluated well-controlled cleaning parameters on fouling control performance of FRCs in service, which will put forward valuable guidance to the development of cleaning strategy for FRCs in service applicable to real-world scenarios as well as contribute to better biofouling management for industrial ship hulls.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2024
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2024
EventEuropean Technical Coatings Congress 2024 - Avignon, France
Duration: 23 Sept 202425 Sept 2024


ConferenceEuropean Technical Coatings Congress 2024


  • Underwater cleaning
  • Fouling release coating
  • Aging
  • Scratch
  • Re-fouling


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