Antifouling - A Timeline of Toxicity


April 24, 2017

Boat owners everywhere consider antifouling to be simply the colourful coat with which we dress our vessels to keep us ferrying along with the sea critters at a safe distance, unhindered by the dragging submerged surface trotting pests. While many people will have some knowledge of how antifouling works, not so many know its origins and how it has changed throughout the years up until the current state of antifouling and foul release coatings today. 

Where it all began

Ancient boats that sailed the seas were no more resistant when left naked and un-supported by antifouling remedies than the boats people leisurely enjoy all over the world today; Fouling is unbiased and unforgiving. However, since the infant age of sail there has been some tremendous advances in defending boat surfaces against the fouling foe. 

Boats throughout the early centuries were used primarily for the transport of goods, battling it out for territory and exploring the far reaches of the globe – and as more places and seas were conquered, the varying strains of fouling were also encountered. As such, the emphasis was on gathering and maintaining as much speed as possible while preserving manoeuvrability in order to achieving optimum performance, much similar to today’s boating priorities.

As early back as 412 BC there has been evidence of sailors coating the sides of their vessels with a mixture of Chian oil, arsenic and sulphur to “glide through the blue waters without impediment” to quote the ancient Aramaic scrolls. Throughout the following centuries, boat owners from all over the world were tinkering with various anti-fouling concoctions consisting of tar, wax, pitch, tallow, lime and poisonous oils to deter the fouling species they came across.

Upon the 16th century, the major introduction of copper sheeting was used for all wooden boats as a full-bodied coat of armour, providing a toxic defence against all brave marine species including the lead villain of all submerged water surface inhabitants – barnacles. In fact, when Darwin was at sea on the HMS Beagle, circumnavigating the world in search of the origins of life, copper plates were used on the ships he sailed. Interestingly, it was Charles Darwin who spent eight years of his life classifying barnacles and his two-volume Monograph on the Cirripedia is still used today as a scientific reference point.

With the development of iron hulls came the move away from copper sheathing and the first patent for antifouling. William Beale formulated a mixture of cement, iron powder and the old favourite, copper. The 18th and 19th centuries saw various experimentations with other toxic metals and refined additives accumulating to over 300 patents across the world, all using a biocidal leaching system similar to those which are used in the antifouling paints of the modern day.

TBT’s and modern antifouling

In the 1960s, TBT’s were dominating the market to keep the blasted barnacles at bay, but before long, it was found out that these chemicals were not only detrimental to marine life but also human beings. The fish that we eat from the ocean and the residue left by toxic chemicals is as bad for us as it is our animal counterparts.

TBT’s poisoned marine ecosystems, with the knock-on effect of molluscs being eaten by other marine life and somewhere nearer the top of the chain humans began ingesting the poisons too. Unknowingly to most, for many years certain restaurants who had things like oysters, mussels and squid supplied from estuaries with intensive sailing / fishing were found to be highly contaminated by tin. So, you don’t need to be a genius or Charles Darwin to see why toxic chemicals are a big consideration in today’s world.

In about 2003, the International Maritime Organisation brought in a ban on TBT that was fully implemented by 2008. What this did was revive the previously more stagnant copper-based antifouling paints. However, while copper may not be quite as damaging as TBTs were, it has had some significant impact on marine life. In fact, Sweden has banned the use of copper antifouling from their Baltic coast and there have been many studies that are looking at the impact of antifouls using copper right now, because people are starting to become wise to it.

A search for an alternative and foul release

After the ban of TBTS’s saw sustainment of biocide ridden paints, but also the move for an initiative to invent more environmentally friendly forms of foul defence that could also be more affective. Fouling release coatings have their origin in the desire for a biocide free system and they were conceived almost simultaneously with self-polishing copolymers, which means that it has been under observation the past 30 years. Initially, foul release coating was being developed at the same time with biocide containing tributyltin (TBT) self-polishing co-polymer (SPC) antifouling coatings in the early 1970’s. These harmful boat paints worked by polishing the vessel as it moved through the water, killing off any bonding fouling species and was considered to yield very good fouling protection. As a result, the commercial benefits and relatively high efficacy meant that further research into foul release paints did not continue in earnest until the 1990’s.

An early observation of the performance for foul release coatings was its application to an aluminium catamaran on a fast ferry specially designed for high speed use (33 knots). Interestingly, after the implementation of the foul release coating compared to the previously used antifoul coating, the operating crew reported an immediate improvement in performance relating to speed, which increased by a considerable 2-3 knots in all weather conditions. This corresponded to each one hour journey being approximately 10 minutes shorter. Thus, proof that foul release did indeed make this vessel go faster. Additionally, overall fuel consumption was reduced by more than 20,000 litres / month at around a 12% decrease

Most foul release systems in use today are silicone materials based on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). PDMS is a non-polar, or uncharged, polymer with an extremely flexible backbone and a low glass transition temperature. This technology which prevents the adhesion of fouling organisms by providing a low-friction, ultra-smooth surface on which organisms have great difficulty in latching on to.

The coatings do not inhibit the fouling settlement, On these types of coatings fouling is not prevented from settling, as in the case of traditional antifouling, but in practice the bond between the fouling organisms and the coating surface is so weak that it breaks by the weight of the organism itself or by the water pressure and current it is exposed to. They are also capable of self-cleaning when sailing at a certain speed at a certain activity, typically minimally 15 knots at minimum 75% of the time.

 



Our Terms of Use of this website and our relationship with you are governed by the following:

Thanks for using the www.aquamarineuk.com website. It is solely owned and controlled by AquaMarine (owned by Fresh Formulations Ltd, Stanroyd Mill, Colne, Lancashire, BB8 7BW). Use of the name AquaMarine, refers to Fresh Formulations Ltd for the purpose of this document here on in. The following terms and conditions apply to your use of this website. In using this website you acknowledge that you have read and understood and agreed to comply with the terms of this agreement and any directives in application / use of AquaMarine products including, AquaMarine PROP, AquaMarine HULL and AquaMarine RIB.

GENERAL

AquaMarine may make changes to the website that include modifications, improvements and additions, change of images, products and services referred to within the website without notice. AquaMarine may also, without notice, make changes to the terms and conditions herewith and any changes will be available. Your use of this website following these changes constitutes your agreement to follow and be bound by the terms as changed. On occasion, additional terms and conditions may apply to the purchase of specific products and other uses of this website. By purchasing from the site and by using the website, you agree to such terms and conditions.

WEBSITE CONTENT DISCLAIMER & LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

The www.aquamarineuk.com website and the information, names, logos, icons and pictures relating to our products is provided on an ‘available’ basis without representation or warranty of any kind. To the maximum extent permitted by law, AquaMarine excludes all warranties, obligations, representations, liabilities, terms or conditions (whether implied or not or arise in contract, by statute otherwise and irrespective of the negligence of AquaMarine, it’s employees or agents) in connection with the information, materials or graphics on this website (including, without limitation, any implied warranty of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose or non-infringement of intellectual property rights).

AquaMarine does not warrant that the items contained in this website or it’s content will be error-free, that defects will be corrected, or that this website or it’s server are free of viruses or other harmful components. However, it shall use reasonable process to ensure that the website is free of viruses or other harmful components.

While information and content on this website has been provided in good faith to provide information about the AquaMarine paint coating range, AquaMarine (Fresh Formulations), it’s employees, affiliates and subsidiaries shall in no event be liable for any damages of any kind whatsoever, including limitation, direct, incidental, special indirect or consequential losses or any losses whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data, damage or profits, whether in an action for breach of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of or access to this website or in connection with any materials, products, information or recommendations on this website.

Please note that the information, materials and graphics available on the AquaMarine website may be incomplete, out of date or incorrect. It is therefore important that you verify and confirm information directly with AquaMarine before taking any action in reliance upon it. The information, materials and graphics available on this website may be subject to change without notice.

LINKS

This website may contain links to or may contain references to other websites, which are neither, directly, or indirectly operated by AquaMarine. Therefore, we have no responsibility whatsoever for the contents of any such linked website or any link contained in such a linked site. The links supplied are solely for your convenience and therefore, they do not imply any endorsement by the AquaMarine brand whatsoever. In no event is AquaMarine liable for the contents or practices of third party websites linking to this website or for third party websites linked to.

Use of content from the AquaMarine site is prohibited. By visiting the website you agree not to add to, alter, substitute or amend wholly or in any part any information, images or other such content from this website.

ONLINE SALES / PURCHASE OF AQUAMARINE PRODUCTS

Any products displayed on this website for sale, that are purchased by a customer or business, will constitute an offer to buy and shall be subject to our standard conditions of sale.

PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY

Any information you transmit through this website is subject to AquaMarine’s privacy policy. You are prohibited from transmitting to or from this site any unlawful, threatening, libellous, defamatory, obscene, inflammatory or such like materials that could give rise to any civil or criminal liability under UK and International Law.

You agree that AquaMarine may use or disclose information about your demographics and use of the website in a manner that does not reveal your identity.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The name AquaMarine is trademarked and owned by AquaMarine and therefore, any use of the name AquaMarine is wholly prohibited. Any use without express permission by AquaMarine in writing, will constitute an infringement of copyright. AquaMarine reserves the right in this instance to pursue damages for use of the trademark and request by law that any use of the name is stopped immediately.

COPYRIGHT

The contents of the AquaMarine website including without limitation all images, illustrations, designs, photographs, icons, video content, graphics, written materials and any other materials that appear as part of this website are the property of AquaMarine.

The copying or modification of any item on this website is strictly prohibited, unless written permission is obtained from AquaMarine.

You may print or download extracts of materials for non-commercial, informational or personal use and you may also copy this material for the purposes of sending it, with no commercial objective to individuals for their personal use, as long as you acknowledge that AquaMarine is the source.

Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel or otherwise any licence or right under any patent or trademark of AquaMarine.

In relation to any materials on this website, AquaMarine gives you permission to download items and use them for the purpose of promoting sales if you are a distributor or stockist of AquaMarine products.

You will use these materials in such a way as to promote AquaMarine’s name and reputation.

SEVERANCE & WAIVER

If any provision of these terms and conditions is found to be invalid by any court having jurisdiction the invalidity of such provision shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions of this agreement, which shall remain in force.

THE AGREEMENT

This agreement constitutes the entire agreement between AquaMarine and you and super-cedes any prior understanding or agreements (written or oral).

APPLICABLE LAW & JURISDICATION

These terms and conditions shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with English Law.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

All programs, products, processes, software, technology, information, know-how, publications, designs, or ideas may be the subject of other rights, including other intellectual property rights, which are duly acknowledged.

Nothing contained within our website constitutes a contract unless specifically agreed with you.

None of LBS Global’s (T/A AquaMarine) employees or Directors will be liable for any indirect, incidental, consequential, or punitive damages or any other damages whatsoever, whether in an action of contract, statute, tort (including, without limitation, negligence), or otherwise, relating to the use of the website or any of the information contained within it.

Our website is intended to provide general information on a particular subject or subjects and is not an exhaustive treatment of such subject(s). Accordingly, the information in this document is not intended to constitute consultancy advice or services.

By using our website, you agree to these Terms of Usage.

If you have any queries on any of the above, please Contact Us

Call Us

+44 1282 873 320

Contact Request

We call you

Email Us

Need Help?

Shop Now

AquaMarine Range