Copper news should cheer coatings makers

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

05 August 2016


Ahead of SMM in September, coatings makers have been busy making announcements about their latest products. Some of the most recent include Subsea Industries’ reporting it has optimised its Ecospeed range of hard coat marine coatings to reduce hull friction by up to 40%, AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings announcing that the requirements for ISO 19030 have been incorporated into its recommendations for hull performance monitoring so that its consultancy tool, Intertrac Vision, can be verified and validated against actual performance using a monitoring process that is ISO 19030 compliant. But perhaps the most important and cheering announcement has come not from a coatings manufacturer but from the EU. Ever since the ban on TBT became effective, coatings makers have struggled to find any biocide that was as effective. Most have settled on copper-based substitutes but there have been worries that this too would face a ban at some point in the near future. But this week it was announced that after thorough scientific evaluation of the use of dicopper oxide, copper thiocyanate and coated copper flake as antifouling substances within the EU Biocidal Products Regulation 528/2012, the ECHA Biocidal Product Committee has determined that these copper compounds are approved for use as active substances in commercial and yacht (pleasure craft) antifouling products for application by both professional and non-professional users. These compounds are the only copper compounds to have received approval to date and are the forms of copper most commonly used in current antifouling paints, either as sole biocide or in conjunction with a co-biocide. As always with EU regulations things are not so straightforward and the regulations require that manufacturers submit applications for approval of all their copper-based antifouling products by 1st January 2018. Products containing zinc pyrithione will have a later deadline. Paints must be approved by each country in which it will be marketed. While a return to TBT which is considered as the most effective anti-fouling is definitely not on the cards, the fact that the threat over copper seems to have been lifted will presumably allow coatings makers to commit to developing and improving their copper-based antifoulings. Image: Hempel.