Post a new topic
    11 Replies Latest reply on Oct 15, 2008 10:47 AM by Scappa

    Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity

    Scappa Adventurer
      Marine Biofouling (Biological fouling)

      By: Rodrigo A. Guajardo



      October 2008


      What is biofouling?


      Biofouling or biological fouling is the detrimental buildup and accumulation of bacteria (microorganisms) that attach and set down themselves onto submerged structures, especially in ships' hulls and pier pillars. Biofouling may include vegetation, typically autotrophic organisms (algae), animals, and other microscopic organisms which can be unicellular, or cell-clustered. Biofouling also crop up on the skin of living marine creatures, and this form of biofouling it is known as epibiosis - the arrangement in which organisms live on top of each other.


      Relative to the industry, biofouling is also found in membrane systems, such as membrane bioreactors used for microfiltration or ultrafiltration of municipal and industrial wastewater. It is also found in processes that employ osmosis membranes. In the same manner it is found as inert fouling - the accumulation of non-living substances, inorganic or organic - in cooling water cycles of large industrial equipments and power stations. These processes are common in ships' propulsion systems, heat exchangers, and convective heat transfer systems.


      Marine biofouling speeds up the corrosion process in structures and materials, causing accelerated operational failures, and the premature loss of structures or equipment.


      In sum, biofouling is a group of organisms of antropic origin that grows and accumulates on submerged structures. It is formed by hundreds of organism species to include bacteria, protozoa, algae, mollusks, bryozoa, cirripedia, polychaeta, tubicolous, ascidiacea, and hydrozoa. Biofouling causes massive losses to the industry in productivity, efficiency, energy, and time. Marine biofouling literally colonizes under water surfaces and the practical effect of the colonization by these organisms it is called: biofouling.


      Problems, costs, and effects of marine biofouling


      The U.S. Navy


      The chief culprit engendering the nuisance of marine biofouling is the unrestrained buildup of a gang of offenders such as barnacles, macroalgae, and microbial slimes. It is a serious and very expensive worldwide problem particularly for marine systems, costing the US Navy alone an estimated $2.1 billion annually.


      On ships' hulls, biofouling results in an increase in roughness, turbulence, and extra weight. Also it diminishes the ship's maneuverability, laminar flow, and carrying capacity. In ships' poorly treated surfaces, marine fouling can amount to more than 330 pounds per square meter in only six months at sea. A 40,000 M2 tanker can increase its weight up to 6,000 tons during this time due to the accumulation of these organisms.


      Marine fouling leads to a significant increase in hydrodynamic drag as the vessel moves through water. This increases fuel consumption by as much as 40% to 50%. Then we have to add other costs such as paint removal and repainting, hull cleaning (hull scrapping amounts to over $200 millions alone), and a variety of associated and interrelated environmental compliance regulations, all contribute to the taxing costs of marine biofouling. And these problems are only on the "outside" of the vessels!


      Efficiency versus Fouling


      There is a tremendous loss of efficiency in Navy ships (or any ship!) due to fouling. This is not good above all for Navy ships. Warships are built with only one purpose and one purpose only: to kill people and destroy things. If a warship is in the shipyard, it is useless. Any war Navy must have all of its vessels ready for action at any moment and at all times, and the more ships are under maintenance, the more vulnerable that Navy is. Marine biofouling put vessels quickly out of combat.


      What Gets "Fouled" in Navy Ships?


      • Main Condensers
      • Sea Water Heat Exchangers
      • Evaporators
      • Distilling Units
      • Sea Water Cooled Air Compressors
      • Other

      Typically, the cleaning costs are in the range of $60,000 to $80,000 per element per cleaning.


      Marine biofouling costs in perspective



      A Ship with a 10 to 15% loss of efficiency can loose up to 4 to 5 nautical miles per hour (NMH) - (Main Condenser Vacuum from 29Hg down to 24Hg.). This means that in a 100 hour cruise from Hawaii to Tokyo the ship will fall 400 to 500 miles short of its destination. The added cost is the additional fuel required to propel the ship the extra distance, and the subsequent equipment maintenance later!


      History capsule:


      Captain James Cook beached his ship the "HM Bark Endeavour" in the Sound side of one of the Queen Charlotte Islands, an archipelago off the northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada, back in 1770, so the crew could clean its hull. The "HM Bark Endeavour" had lost its seaworthy laminar flow in the region of 65% to fouling and extra weight.

      Marine biofouling causes huge material and economic costs in maintenance of shipping fleets and marine industries, naval vessels, seawater pipelines, and mariculture - a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds, or raceways which are filled with seawater. In the US, the annual mariculture general farm maintenance (total of 23,000 ha), demonstration farm management (800 ha) and special farm maintenance (2 zones) were US$14.9 million in 1997, cost that in time will be passed on to the cost of the food.


      Several assessments of the economic impact of the cost of biofouling have been made, but not many are updated since the cost increases constantly and steadily, and frankly, the practice is depressing. A 1981 study (that is more than 27 years ago!) in the United States computed annual fouling-related cost to be in the region of US$1.4 billion. In another study carried out in England in 1979, the annual cost of fouling was placed between US$300 and US$500 million. Adding to the sheer magnitude of these figures is the fact that these studies had been made almost three decades ago.


      Here are the results from a study performed in 1992.



      CountryFouling Costs


      (USD Millions)
      1992 GNP


      (USD Billions)
      Fouling costs/GNP


      New Zealand65430.15
      Source: Advance Heat Transfer-FBHX-USA

      A NEW remedy for marine biofouling


      KIMIL (Mayan Death): A novel and innovative technology


      While most quest for anti-biofouling rummages around finding or developing novel control methods, they all come within reach of compounds with mechanisms that could fend off or hinder the self-adhesion of fouling organisms. There is an important detail to pay attention to. It is manifest that many life forms living in the sea remain free from marine fouling. This is due largely to irritant secretions produced by some animal skins that counteract the adhesion of marine life.


      Active natural compounds have been extracted from many types of organisms including bacteria, corals, sponges, seaweeds and sea grasses, but an unacceptable quantity of them have proved to be highly toxic to the nautical environment. Today's climate and because of the conscientiousness and fiduciary responsibility we profess for the only planet we have, any plausible anti-fouling restraining agent must comprise a superior mammalian and ecotoxicological - the integration of toxicology and ecology - profile to be accepted as a viable method of use to control marine biofouling, without upsetting the marine flora and fauna, and the ever-present and always-vigilant human eco-groups.


      One such compound is KIMIL. I have called the compound KIMIL, which means "Mayan Death" because of the deep-rooted mythical origins of the constitutive elements of a concept I conceived to create an earth-friendly anti-fouling compound.


      The idea revolves around the development of a nautical anti-fouling resistant coating, not deadly but hostile to marine biofouling. This composite is rooted on a solanaceae oleoresin capsicum base that engenders a powerful irritant in resin form which can hold fast into metal, wood, and synthetic surfaces, and inhibits the accretion of fouling by interfering with microorganism's adhesion mechanisms.


      Kimil is an amalgam that encompasses several constituents and supplementary complexes in its make-up. Some of such compounds are Sinense and Jolokia, where Jolokia is considered the most powerful of the entire binomial nomenclature in the Scoville scale. Pungent piquant secretions of these genres contain capsaicin, a chemical compound taht quickly stimulates and irritate chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially in mollusks and sessile animals'- those which are not able to move about - mucus membranes.


      This non-toxic irritant composition makes KIMIL the perfect "green" element, the eco-friendly constituent, and the ideal bio-commodity to wage war against marine biofouling.


      A business opportunity?


      Decide for yourself


      Return on Investment (according to DOD)


      Corrective and Preventive actions to mitigate the effects of corrosion and fouling provides a 10:1 to 50:1 net cost savings depending on the components type (ship, aircraft, trucks, buildings...) according to recent studies conducted by the US Department of Defense.


      Asset Preservation (according to NACE)


      • Average return on investment in private industry is 20:1
      • Average life extension is 35%
      • 1/3+ of the cost of fouling is preventable with current technologies
      • Fouling, Corrosion Control & Prevention = Asset Preservation

      It is estimated that the value of the anti-fouling market worldwide today is approximately US$250 Billion per year, market in which most products, to include paints in stannic base compound are prohibited from its use. The prohibition to use these products came into full effect worldwide in January 1, 2007, and it was instituted by the American Fisheries Society (AFS) agreement of 2001. The American Fisheries Society (AFS), a member of the WORLD COUNCIL OF FISHERIES SOCIETIES; is the world's oldest and largest organization dedicated to strengthening the fisheries profession, advancing fisheries science, and conserving fisheries resources.


      So the market suddenly mammothed in 2007 and not many new products that can comply with the new requirements and mandates have integrated the market today. Consequently, the vertical market share it is huge today, and the worldwide demand for these products continues to be is massive, and still growing strong.


      KIMIL it is a compliant product that can be marketed throughout the planet with moderate competition, and a great forecast for vigorous profits with a small Human Capital.


        • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity

          thanks for sharing so much.

          I will reread this post and sleep on it,

          Thanks LUCKIEST
          • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
            intechspecial Ranger
            Some extremely valueable information.

            Thanks for your post, and welcome to the community!
            • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              Sailors have been crushing up dried chili peppers and stirring them into bottom paint for almost as long as there has been bottom paint. On a large commercial scale, however, that solution comes with its own set of problems, most of which have traditionally been more costly and dangerous to deal with than say, copper-based biocides (which are not prohibited and are widely used throughout the world -- I use a copper-based anti-fouling paint on my boat). So I'm wondering if the "novel and innovative technology" you mention is something that overcomes those cost, storage, and application limitations in order to make this a truly viable commercial product. If so, I'd recommend focusing more on that aspect (and less on the basics of marine fouling) -- because I'd think that's the underlying question or traction statement that a knowledgable investor, industry analyst, or commercial buyer would be looking for with this. Just a suggestion. Best wishes.

                • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
                  intechspecial Ranger
                  Very sound advice Lighthouse.

                  Your comments are always both informative and entertaining.
                  • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
                    Scappa Adventurer

                    Greetings Lighthouse24,


                    Thank you for your contribution. You are right, peppers are been used for this and other purposes since 3,000 BC. However, as you pointed out correctly, in a large commercial scale are not practical, are not enough, or economic. I must say that many of the copper-base paints and biocides are prohibited in fisheries, and are not used in large vessels. If you have a small boat, made out of wood or fiberglass, the copper-based anti-fouling paint you use in your boat is OK, but for large carriers are not. This paints and coatings cause stagnant sediment which kills marine fauna if used in substantial quantities. If you have the opportunity to review the INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION TREATY ON THE CONTROL OF HARMFUL ANTI-FOULING SYSTEMS ON SHIPS OF 2001, that entered into full force in January 7, 2007, you will see that many of the copper-base paint and biocides are outlawed.



                    My product is meant for large, industrialized consumption. It is a lot cheaper than any product in the market, and unlike the paints, it is biodegradable. Marine fouling, although an expensive nuisance, it is not a significant problem for small vessels as it is for tankers, or warships, for example.


                    My product was tested by the US Navy, the Chilean Navy, and the Indian Navy, and it did stand its claims. Marine biofouling it is oblivious to the size or might of a Navy or a maritime carrier fleet. After studies performed on the cost of fouling removal, big vessels are second to none in cost resulting from countering marine biofouling.


                    When I started this, I did follow what you cleverly suggest as to look for cost, storage, and application limitations, and I am happy to say that I was able to put those to rest. Unfortunately I can not send you a sample of the product since I am in negotiations with a market giant for the exclusive distribution rights of this line of products. I am sure you will find the product amazing, cheap, easy to apply, and literally, with no restrictions.


                    Thank you for your time and consideration in reading my article, and I hope there is more people like you out there that can contribute with positive and constructive suggestions.


                    Thanks Lighthouse24, and best wishes and luck to you too.


                      • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
                        Lighthouse24 Ranger

                        Thanks for the additional info. Which of the U.S. Navy's test methods/stages has your product undergone and completed?

                        I'd agree that the IMO convention you cited most definitely banned antifouling paints made with tributylin (TBT) for non-aluminum craft, but you noted that "copper-based paints and biocides are outlawed." I was only aware of three nations that had restricted (but not prohibited) bottom paints with copper, and last I heard, California was the only U.S. state even considering restrictions. I was also under the impression that two of the three types of bottom paint currently approved and most widely used on U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels are copper-based (MIL-PRF-24647), as are those used by most container freight, tanker, and passenger ships in the world. Am I mistaken?

                        The Emma Maersk, launched late in 2006, made a big splash (pun intended) out of being the first ship in that company's fleet to use a very expensive silicon-based (non-copper, non-biocide) bottom coating. The other 600+ container ships in their fleet (the largest of the world's large ships) are using Type II bottom paint systems that contain copper (for now, at least). Of course, everyone is interested in solutions that are better for the environment if they perform acceptably, are cost-effective to purchase and apply, and safe to transport, store, and use.

                        Thank you in advance for any clarification you can provide.
                          • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
                            Scappa Adventurer

                            Greetings Lighthouse24,


                            You are correct in your assertion that a few nations have restricted the use of copper based paints and some biocides. Truth is that they will love to prohibit them, but there are no viable economic choices today to exchange those compounds with, neither there is a "marine police" to enforce it. And here is where I am going to make my money.


                            In any case, I was not talking about the the International Maritime Organization (IMO), an organization born out of the formerly known Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO). The assertions you made in your response are correct in regards of this organization. It is stimulating and invigorating to have a discussion with someone like you who knows and understand what is talking about. Most people I talk to they look at me with googeely eyes and just nod their heads in assent.


                            The prohibitions I am talking about come from The American Fisheries Society (AFS) and the use of these elements - to include paints made with a base of tributylin and stannic compounds- in nets and fisheries, to include the fishing fleets. Toxicogenomic analysis certainly shows that those elements are bad for marine fauna.


                            Regarding the container ship Emma Mærsk, that ship has more goodies than the expensive silicon-based coating as you correctly point out. It also has exhaust recycling system for its engine, the biggest Diesel engine that exists today, and it possesses recycling systems for water, garbage, and heat system aboard. Bringing up the Emma Mærsk as example was an excellent choice you made. Thank you.


                            Regarding the US Navy, I can not tell you much but all products used for the fouling prevention shipboard application are required to pass a Health Hazard Assessment (HHA) performed by the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) before anything else. We have performed other tests and we are currently performing specific applications tests that I am not in liberty to discuss; and I am not being cocky or arrogant here, please believe me!


                            When all is over, I will be happy to share with you whatever I can in regards to this item. For now, thank you for entertaining such an inspirational discussion.




                            • Re: Marine Biofouling as a Business Opportunity
                              Scappa Adventurer

                              Sorry. I forgot to send you this interesting link.


                              Thank you again.