You could well imagine that top-of-the-range coatings would be a hard sell in shipping markets with surplus capacity, weak charter markets and dramatically cheaper fuel costs. Not so, for AkzoNobel’s biocide-free Intersleek 1100SR, part of the International® range of marine coatings, which has now been applied to the hulls of more than 900 vessels.
Intersleek 1100SR is now setting new application records across a diverse range of vessels. Specially formulated to tackle the challenge of micro-fouling, an average of six applications of 1100SR have been made every week since the coating was introduced in 2013. This sets a new record in the take-up of a premium hull coating.
Leading operators of LNG carriers, VLCCs, ro-pax vessels, container ships and cruise vessels are all enthusiastic customers of Intersleek 1100SR. Middle-East owners in particular, operating in relatively warm Gulf waters and on voyages to Asia, face a high fouling challenge and are some of the leading adopters of the patented fluoropolymer technology.
Spectacular in-service performance has recently been demonstrated in the highly competitive cruise sector. A cruise vessel was recently was inspected in drydock following a 32-month spell at sea in the waters of the Far East, South Asia and South Africa. These areas pose a medium-to-high, or very high fouling challenge and the cruise vessel spent almost two-thirds of her time in these regions. Nevertheless, on inspection, the ship’s hull was clean with only minimal fouling evident.
Intersleek 1100SR, specifically developed in AkzoNobel’s laboratories by the company’s chemists and polymer scientists, is based on slime release technology and is the first hull-coating product designed to tackle micro-fouling, specifically biofilms.
These are highly complex dynamic organisms which vary in thickness, texture, composition and surface roughness. They are so diverse that samples taken from one part of a ship’s hull can be completely different to other samples taken just a few metres away. The composition of marine slime or biofilm also varies by geographic location, season and vessel activity.
Dr Richard Towns, Market Segment Manager for Intersleek at AkzoNobel, believes that in spite of much lower bunker costs, many ship operators have nevertheless seen the benefits of Intersleek 1100SR for several sound reasons.
‘Our move to introduce the iPad-based Intertrac Vision has proved very successful,’ he says. ‘Intertrac Vision is the marine coatings industry’s first big-data predictive tool based on a ship’s likely trading pattern. It is based on more than 3.5 billion datasets and 2.5 terabytes of historical coatings performance collected over four decades and means that we can tailor hull coating specs to a ship’s likely operating profile. This has proved particularly successful in preparing Intersleek hull coating specs.’
‘This unique approach can help cut the cost of premium products at the outset whilst guaranteeing reliable in-service performance. We also have arrangements in place with leading hull cleaning firms in various locations which provide non-contact and sustainable hull cleaning options. Should a ship operator suspect that hull roughness is increasing, perhaps evidenced by small increases in bunker consumption for example, he or she can have the hull of the ship cleaned without damaging the coating,’ Towns adds.
However, Towns also points to another significant incentive for ship operators to upgrade from biocide-based hull coatings to the ultra-foul release coatings. Early adopters of AkzoNobel’s carbon credits programme, a marine industry first, are now seeing significant financial benefits of doing just that.
He describes how a Greek tanker owner, Neda Maritime, received carbon credits for their vessel coated with Intersleek. Leading global logistics company Grimaldi group received the largest number of carbon credits for participating in the scheme which is based on cuts in carbon emissions achieved as a result of applying Intersleek coatings to ships’ hulls. These are the first beneficiaries, Towns explains, but a number of other ship operating companies will be benefiting from the carbon credits scheme in the months ahead. The independently validated results can be traded in the market, used to offset carbon created elsewhere in the business, or passed on to customers to offset their own carbon emissions.