The subsea fouling environment is a challenging one for marine paint chemists. Poseidon’s R&D team is here to make biofouling R&D a little easier and a lot faster.
Subsea Immersion Test
The evaluation of marine biofouling is typically conducted in shallow depths, usually 2 to 4 feet from the surface. This test is sufficient to determine the performance of antifouling coatings for applications in small boats and ships. Poseidon’s marine antifouling research center in Tuticorin, India provides R&D services to support this industry. However, there are many applications where coatings are used in much deeper waters, particularly for those to coat pipelines and oil rigs, where the fouling communities, environmental conditions and pressures are markedly different.
In December, 2008, Poseidon Sciences launched a new test facility at its Athena Biosystems Station in the island of Panay (Philippines) . This new Athena Subsea Test facility comprises an underwater platform extending from the surface to 45 m depth. The structure, anchored at the sea bottom, allows for installation of test panels in static immersion at various depths, depending on project sponsor specifications.
Because it is located in a tropical environment, fouling attachment is rapid, with settlement of goose barnacles as the primary hard fouling species. The photo below are examples of the typical fouling found on an unprotected PVC panel in static immersion for only 1 month. Algal soft fouling are also common.
Subsea Antifouling Research
Understanding the interactions between fouling communities and surfaces is a complex issue. And, coatings system that work well against fouling at the submerged bottom of the ship’s hull does not necessarily perform well against surfaces in deeper submergence. Building a subsea test facility offers the opportunity to begin validating the performance of coatings against such an environment.
Why build the site in Philippine waters? There are many reasons. First, Athena Biosystems Philippines, a division of Poseidon Sciences, already have an operating subsea facility that samples pelagic fishes from depths down to 50 meters. Second, we have marine biologists, botanists and divers maintaining the subsea test site. Adding another component in the current operation minimizes the capital cost of developing the program. Third, the marine tropical location is ideal for testing because of the existing aggressive year-round subsea fouling environment, enabling faster evaluation of subsea coatings. This facility shall enable coatings chemists to fine tune their formulation. Test results are supplied electronically after the inspection period, along with, barnacle counts and other relevant biological and structural information.
An article on our subsea testing operations has been published in Asia Pacific Coatings Journal. To read the article, please click HERE.