A project development group including PPG, MACtac, Meyer Werft/ND Coatings, VertiDrive and Hamburg Ship Model Basin HSVA are working together to establish an automatic application process enabling an innovative self-adhesive/fouling-release film to be used on commercial seagoing vessels. This process will allow shipowners and operators to enjoy the fouling-release properties and drag-reduction capabilities of the SIGMAGLIDE® self-adhesive film by PPG.
“The eSHaRk (eco-friendly Ship Hull film system with fouling Release and fuel-saving properties) project aims to bring to the market a fouling-protection technology which not only maintains the current state-of-the-art fouling-protection standards but is superior to existing paint-based solutions in terms of eco-friendliness, easiness of application, robustness and drag-reduction effects, all of which will lead to fuel savings and the reduction of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions,” said PPG Product Manager Christophe Cheikh.
The system incorporates a fine-tuned fouling-release system based on PPG’s 100 percent silicone binder technology and a self-adhesive film designed by MACtac for underwater use.
As part of the eSHaRk project, new, robotized application technology is being developed by VertiDrive that will be used to automate application of the film on large commercial vessels. Furthermore, the surface morphology of the film will be optimized to enhance drag-reduction, fuel-savings and emissions-reduction benefits to previously unattainable levels.
After extensive laboratory testing, including flow-channel drag-reduction experiments conducted in a state-of-the-art flow channel at HSVA, several small-scale in-practice applications have been conducted successfully, and PPG is now looking for full-scale testing and validation in operational conditions before market entry with the support of ND Coatings/Meyer Werft.
The number of trial applications is growing, and the advantages of the system are being demonstrated. To date, the film system is offering clear advantages at newbuild stage that can be grouped into two categories:
Productivity improvement, with easier and faster application of the fouling-release system without the traditional constraint of overcoating intervals; and
Minimum impact on environment, health and safety, with waste reduction and no volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, minimizing the need for safety equipment at the time of application.
Going forward, both the number of trials and the size of trial vessels will be increased in order to validate the system thoroughly prior to full-scale commercial launch. This validation phase will confirm the benefits for the ship operator in terms of fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
“Fouling is a constant challenge for the shipping industry. A number of fouling-protection technologies currently exist, the most widely-used being spray-on antifouling and fouling-release coatings," Cheikh said. He added that these solutions face challenges regarding their environmental impact, the efficiency of their application on ship hulls, and their effectiveness in protecting vessels against fouling.
“The new eSHaRk technology applies state-of-the-art PPG silicone fouling-release technology specially tailored for fully-controlled industrial application onto a self-adhesive film specially designed for underwater exposure. This enables PPG and partners to deliver an environmentally-friendly and easy-to-apply fouling-release solution that exceeds the performance of fouling-release technology currently available on the market,” Cheikh said.
The eSHaRk solution is expected to have superior drag-reduction properties compared with existing antifouling and fouling-release technologies, he noted, with up to 10 percent drag reduction as compared to the currently available maximum of 5 percent drag reduction. "This new film-based technology thus has the potential to set a new standard in the market for fouling-protection products,” he said.
The SIGMAGLIDE fouling-release film solution under development within the eSHaRk project has a targeted launch date of 2018.
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