Subsurface coating reapplication

Approximately 10% of a vessel’s energy costs and emissions are due to fouling on the hull.[1] In the U.S. alone, the shipping industry spends more than $36bn annually in added fuel costs to overcome the drag caused by clinging marine life and the maintenance needed to mitigate this problem.[2] 

Current antifouling practice sees ships being dry docked about every fifth year. This is an expensive and time-consuming process which requires the ship to be lifted out of the water for scraping, sand-blasting, and recoating.[3]

Autonomous underwater robots will be able to inspect hulls for fouling and apply spot treatment while at berth. Regular treatment and maintenance will lower the need for drydocking and reduce fuel expenses.

When will autonomous underwater robots be inspecting and applying antifouling treatment to ships at berth?

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[1] European Innovation Council (2018), Market maturation of the first on-board autonomous biofouling cleaning system to keep ship's hull clean at all times
[2] Perkins, S. (2011), A Warming World Could Add Billions to Shipping Costs
[3] Apostolidis, A., Kokarakis, J. & Merikas, A. (2012), Modeling the Dry-Docking Cost - The Case of Tankers
More information:
Gollasch, S. (2010), The Importance of Ship Hull Fouling as a Vector of Species Introductions into the North Sea
Practical Boat Owner (2014), Antifouling: Everything you need to know
Grand View 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