The 2014 Maritime Innovation Award, given jointly by the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and QinetiQ, has been presented to Subsea Industries for the product Ecolock.
The Maritime Innovation Award is presented to an individual or organisation in recognition of outstanding scientific or technological research in hydrodynamics, propulsion, structures and material which offers the potential to make significant improvements in the design, construction and operation of marine vessels and structures.
Increasingly, offshore vessels such as FPSOs, FSOs, FLRSUs and others used for offshore oil and gas exploration, drilling, storage and transport need to stay out of drydock for 15, 25 even 40 years. The challenge has been to protect the underwater hull from corrosion and to provide a cleanable surface so that the biofouling that accumulates can be removed successfully and safely without the need for docking.
In the early 2000s after more than 10 years of research, Subsea Industries developed glassflake reinforced coating. The solution combines a hard coating with routine in-water cleaning. Ecolock, which is a continuation of that research and development, is also a glassflake reinforced coating, but one intended specifically to meet the challenging hull protection requirements of offshore vessels. Ecolock can be cleaned underwater as often as needed to meet the requirements of FPSOs, drill ships and other offshore vessels.
Ecolock provides a hard, impermeable coating which even the toughest barnacle will not penetrate. Barnacles, coral and other fouling organisms can be removed completely by divers, leaving no trace and restoring the coating to its original condition. And because it is non-toxic, it is sensitive to the environment.
Ecolock is the result of continuous R&D on offshore hull coatings since the 1990s.
RINA Chief Executive Trevor Blakeley says: “The maritime industry today is facing many challenges as it responds to the increasing demands of operators, regulators and society for greater efficiency, safety and the protection of the environment. Meeting these challenges will require innovative thinking in all sectors of the industry. However, in an industry which is highly dependent on technology, it is in technological and scientific research and development that innovation will have perhaps the greatest impact, in providing ships and marine structures which cost less to design, build and operate, are safer, and are more sensitive to the environment.”