In this article, we will digg into the key features and benefits of clean propulsion propellers so you can make an informed decision on which cleaning method is best for your vessel.
The big target for shipping and on the propeller is called: biofouling
Biofouling is the buildup of organic and inorganic substances on the hull, propeller or other liquid carrying surfaces. These substances may include algae, barnacles, mussels and other microorganisms. Biofouling affects a vessel’s ability to operate by increasing drag and reducing speed. It also increases fuel consumption and can damage the ship’s structure.
This fouling occurs naturally, and it can only be counteracted. Because it is not an issue that you fight once and never come back.
But there are also innovative but proven technologies which are efficiently preventing the formation of biofilm.
Each territory in which the vessel moves is a unique biotope with its own microorganisms. These are extremely diverse and change due to water temperature, water quality, substrate, life species and much more. Likewise, there is also great variation in the rate at which a biofilm forms.
“In one of the most heavily vegetated regions in the world, we had a customer who had a completely vegetated hull within 2 weeks and had to have it cleaned several times a year.” — Jan Kelling
What does such a biofilm contain?
Biofilm = slime layer – Formed by microorganisms which are themselves embedded in this slime layer. Step by step, more and more organisms grow and enlarge. Underwater they are substances like algae, barnacles, mussels, and other life forms.
Biofouling a common competition for vessels
Biofouling is a common competition for vessels and has a significant impact on the ship’s performance. Biofouling occurs when organisms such as barnacles, algae, and other marine life become attached to the hull or propeller. This can increase the drag of the vessel, resulting in increased fuel consumption and reduced speed. If left uncleaned for a long period of time, it can also lead to corrosion.
The standard: underwater polishing as a common cleaning method
Underwater polishing is a common cleaning method to maintain the surface of a propeller. This process uses specialized equipment to remove marine growth deposits from the surface of the propeller. The procedure is performed underwater to keep the process at least as cost-effective as possible.
The procedure begins with a high-pressure water jet that clears the surface of the propeller of loose debris. This is followed by a polishing process that uses a rotating brush to remove stubborn deposits on the blades.
The entire process is extremely complex and costly. Special divers are needed and also special equipment. In addition to the cost of deploying such a team, please keep in mind the off hire costs of the vessel.
However, there are also options that are not the standard and keep the deposits away even before they form – ultrasound. But first, let’s take a look at said coatings.
Propeller coating not popular with shipowners
Propeller coating supposed to be a component of a clean propeller because it intended to help reducing drag and improving fuel efficiency.
The most common type of propeller coating is a polyurethane-based system that provides excellent protection against corrosion and abrasion.
This type of coating is applied in a two-step process in which a primer is applied first, followed by the topcoat. The primer serves to seal gaps and cracks in the propeller surface, while the top coat provides additional protection against corrosion and wear. In addition, this type of coating can be applied in both dry and wet conditions.
The coating’s industry looks to the future
Away from biocides, towards more sustainable, higher-performance alternatives. Experts predict that by 2026, today’s biocide systems will give way to these new solutions due to increasing demand for chemical-free products.
Ultrasound as a clean and environmentally friendly alternative
Ultrasound is an increasingly popular and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional propeller cleaning methods. Ultrasonic technology uses high-frequency sound waves to protect the surface of a propeller, preventing microbes from adhering without the use of harsh chemicals or abrasives.
The process of using ultrasound is not a one-time action, but an ongoing process. To begin with, so-called ultrasonic transducers are glued to a certain spot on the propeller system.
The sound waves propagate along the surface of the propeller, causing deposits and fouling to detach from the surface, but also preventing them from sticking. This process is extremely effective, making it the ideal choice for those who want to keep their propellers clean without damaging them.
What are the benefits of an ultrasonic system:
- Save fuel
- Protect the environment and save CO₂
- Reduce operating costs
- Conserve material
- Polishing no longer necessary
- Years of trouble-free operation
Fuel efficiency with a clean propeller – Ultrasonic Antifouling
When it comes to fuel efficiency, a clean propeller is essential. A propeller that is contaminated by marine growth causes drag and reduces engine efficiency. This leads to higher fuel consumption and higher operating costs.
Ultrasonic antifouling systems are not as expensive as thought
Ultrasonic antifouling systems are becoming increasingly popular with shipping lines who want to save fuel and maintain a clean propeller. The good news is that these systems don’t have to be as expensive as many people think. There are a variety of different models available, ranging from simple to more advanced systems with added features like artificial intelligence as well as long-term perspective quality.
HASYTEC Ultrasonic Antifouling
When vessels set sail around the world, HASYTEC’s ultrasonic antifouling system keeps them running smoothly. The reliable and durable technology has been installed on more than 270 vessel’s propellers.
“Our first projects has been sailing the world’s oceans for over five years now without a single subsequent cleaning and is still clean!” — Jan Kelling