Today’s shipowners face a simultaneous battle on two fronts, states leading paint and coatings manufacturer Jotun. A growing pressure to comply with ever more stringent environmental regulations is matched by a need to control costs, and enhance efficiency, in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable marketplace.
Confronted with such grave challenges, owners have an opportunity, Jotun says, to pick “the low hanging fruit” of advanced antifouling solutions, simplifying compliance while also achieving significant bottom-line benefits.
The IMO is expected to redouble its environmental efforts, and legislative focus, over the coming years as it aims to fulfil an ambition of reducing shipping’s carbon footprint by 50% by 2050 (with full decarbonisation by 2100). MEPC 75 demonstrated that commitment, with the introduction of two new quantitative measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions per ton-mile of cargo transported: The Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII).
EEXI sets a baseline reference and may require a vessel to retrofit energy saving devices, or impose an engine power limit, while CII will be used to track and rate the vessel’s energy efficiency in actual operation, on a yearly basis. Vessels with favourable ratings will unlock advantages in operational profitability, charter attractiveness and financing options.
“This is where developments in high quality antifoulings can make all the difference,” commented Stein Kjølberg, Global Category Director, Hull Performance, Jotun. “Energy efficiency and carbon emissions are inextricably linked to fouling growth on ships’ hulls. Algae and barnacles add significant frictional resistance, and this results in speed loss. To compensate for that, and keep up with sailing schedules, vessels are forced to increase power. As a result, fuel consumption and carbon emissions also increase. That creates obvious financial ramifications, environmental impact, and difficulties in terms of regulatory compliance. So, in short, a dirty hull is bad news for everyone. Keeping clean is unquestionably the way forward.”
To illustrate the compelling case for effectively combatting bio-fouling, Kjølberg points to Jotun’s own Hull Performance Solutions (HPS). With over a decade of market proven operation, and applications on around 1000 vessels, HPS’ combination of silyl methacrylate-based coating technology, high-end technical service and monitoring has recorded success in keeping vessel speed loss as low as 1%, versus the market average of 5.9% (over a standard five-year drydocking period). This translates to a fuel saving of 14.7%, delivering powerful commercial and environmental gains.
“We have developed this technology over more than 20 years,” Kjølberg noted, “continually innovating to meet shipowner demand, while investing in proving efficacy to demonstrate ROI. With this in mind, HPS offers customers a highly transparent performance guarantee, with Jotun’s dedicated team of data analysts documenting and monitoring hull performance based on ISO 19030. We believe HPS has effectively set a new industry standard.”
But Jotun, and Kjølberg, refuse to rest on their laurels. In March 2020, the Norwegian-headquartered firm launched Hull Skating Solutions (HSS). This breakthrough in proactive cleaning is designed to maintain an “always clean” hull, removing bacteria and biofilm before macro-fouling can take hold. In doing so it optimises hull performance while diminishing the need for reactive cleaning.
HSS features the ‘always-onboard’ Jotun HullSkater, the industry’s first robotic technology purposely designed for proactive cleaning. The unit is remotely controlled via a 4G connection by expert Jotun Skate Operators, who inspect and clean, when required, a specially developed SeaQuantum Skate antifouling. A proprietary algorithm, big data and condition monitoring (tailored to each individual vessel) are utilised to help set optimal inspection and proactive cleaning schedules.
“This bold approach to proactive cleaning takes the shipping industry to a whole new level in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental profile,” Kjølberg said. “HSS delivers an always clean hull and full operational flexibility for vessels facing the very toughest bio-fouling challenges. That’s something no coating can possibly achieve on its own.”
The Jotun executive says research shows that if all vessels within the target market adopt HSS proactive cleaning an estimated 40 million tons of maritime CO2 emissions per annum could be cut worldwide. In addition, a minimum fuel cost saving per vessel of 13% could be achieved (over a five-year drydocking period, compared to typical average performance).
On the subject of regulatory compliance, he notes that while the exact CII ratings are still being drafted at IMO, the index tracking could start as early as 2023: “For vessel owners, this means it may be wise to invest in highly effective fouling protection such as HPS – or HSS for those facing the most challenging conditions – at the very next drydocking to start clocking more energy efficient miles. It pays to stay one step ahead when it comes to compliance.”
It’s a strategy that paid dividends for the business, and its global customer base, with another significant MEPC 75 development – the move to ban the use of cybutryne as an antifouling biocide. “The ban of cybutryne is a non-issue for Jotun, as it’s not been used in any of our antifouling coatings for more than 20 years,” Kjølberg stated. “Although cybutryne was among potential candidates to replace tributyltin (TBT) – when that too was banned by the IMO, back in 2001 – we realised its low degradation rate in seawater might lead to the same issue of environmental persistence. Bearing that in mind we moved quickly to prohibit its use in our coatings, far ahead of regulations. That will no doubt provide real peace of mind for our customers today, who can rest assured that all Jotun antifoulings on their vessels are 100% compliant with the impending ban.”
Kjølberg concludes with the observation that compliance and commercial issues should not be seen in isolation. They are, he said, two sides of the same coin. “Improved environmental performance, and compliance, enhances bottom line results,” he stressed, “with lower fuel consumption reducing both costs and emissions. And of course, the fewer issues with compliance – on an international, port and state level – the fewer disruptions, improving your fleet’s chances of predictable, profitable operations.”
He said that no one should underestimate the pressures owners face in today’s volatile industry, but at the same time the owners themselves should not underestimate the impact this “low hanging fruit” can have on their broader business. “It is a battle out there,” he finished, “but an effective antifouling approach is a clear win-win for everyone.”