Nano-antifouling makes inroads – Prices drop as technology comes into its own

WORMER, April 2017 ~ It is the bane of boaters: there is just no stopping the fouling of hulls. Luckily, in the last 25 years, antifouling nanotechnology has made big inroads. “There are nanotechnologies for anything from corrosion to active cleaners to antifouling,” says Rob van Hoorn of nC Surface Technology, a specialist in changing material properties and/or surface characteristics.

Nano-technology shuns organism-killing biocides. Instead, lattice matrices are applied to a hull with nano-particles completely filling the matrix structure. The particles bond chemically so tightly that nothing enters the hull.

In 2016, nC Marine put a Durazane-based anti-fouling _ nC Protect 4400 _ on a High-Density polyethylene workboat of Tideman Boats of the Netherlands. HDPE is stronger than aluminum or polyester, but so dense anti-fouling paints or foils don’t stick to it.

Van Hoorn says in work done with Dutch shipyards, nano-antifouling proved to be cheaper than conventional products. “Because it is applied without primer in a single coat,” he says. “This makes coating about 40% cheaper per m² than the average prices we see for anti-fouling today.”

Bruno Tideman, maker of HDPE workboats, is a believer. “With only a piece of cloth and a tiny amount of fluid” the nC Protect 4400 was applied in under an hour, he says. The nano-coat can be applied by cloth, sponge, brush, roller or air gun

The nC Marine website shows dozens of nanotech products: from cleaning agents to degreasers to self-cleaning nanocoating for metals. Nanoparticle properties vary greatly. Nano-tungsten offers unseen abrasion resistance, says Van Horn. “Nano-borate is extremely low in friction. Nano-titanium-oxide particles make surfaces self-cleaning.” The list continues to grow.