Antifouling foil

The unwanted accumulation of biological material on ship hulls, known as fouling, can cause an increase in fuel consumption by up to 40%.[1] In the U.S. alone, the shipping industry spends more than $36bn each year in added fuel costs to overcome the drag induced by clinging marine life and the maintenance needed to mitigate this problem.[2] Treatment requires dry docking, an expensive and time-consuming process, to lift the ship out of the water for scraping, sand-blasting, and repainting.[3]

Wrapping the hull with a layer of antifouling foil - similar to a plastic wrap for food or luggage - would provide a protective barrier against unwanted organisms.[4] Wrapping undertaken while at a port call by underwater divers or robots, will eliminate the need for drydocking. However, subsurface application technologies are still needed to make this opportunity feasible.

When will it become accepted practice that ships are wrapped with antifouling foil while at berth?

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[1] IMO (2003), Anti-fouling systems
[2] Perkins (2011), A Warming World Could Add Billions to Shipping Cost
[3] Apostolidis & Kokarakis (2012), Modeling the Dry-Docking Cost - The Case of Tankers
[4] MacGlide (2020), What is MacGlide
More information:
Economic Times (2020), Drydocking definition
Gollasch (2010), The Importance of Ship Hull Fouling as a Vector of Species Introductions into the North Sea
Zainzinger (2019), Antifouling coatings cling to copper
Practical Boat Owner (2014), Anti-fouling: Everything you need to know
Grandview Research (2016), Antifouling Coating Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Application (Shipping Vessels, Drilling Rigs & Production Platforms), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2016 - 2022

By Matthew J. Spaniol