LEAF – Low Emission AntiFouling
Marine biofouling can be defined as the colonization of man-made surfaces in seawater by microscopic and macroscopic organisms. This phenomenon can result in great loss of function and effectiveness both for cruising ships and for static constructions.
Of special concern are the negative effects of hard foulers such as barnacles, which cause: (i) increased drag resistance resulting in up to 40% increases fuel consumption and associated increases in CO2 emission, and (ii) disruption of the corrosion protective layer of marine vessels and constructions.
Current antifouling technologies are based either on release of biocides or on low-adhesion coatings, e.g. silicone based coatings. Present biocide-based strategies are based on a continuous exposure of biocides at the film/water interface and consequently release into the environment if the antifouling efficacy is to be maintained. One commonly used biocide is copper, which is known to have long-term ecological effects. Such biocide-based solutions can therefore not be regarded as sustainable. Low adhesion coatings suffer from drawbacks of low durability and associated high material and maintenance costs. Therefore, there is currently no sustainable and cost-efficient solution available on the market today to minimize the costly and environmentally important problem of marine biofouling of marine vessels and constructions.
The European FP7 Collaborative project LEAF aims to develop such a sustainable antifouling solution, based on a newly discovered antifouling concept which is neither based on biocide emission or low adhesion.