BioFREE Webinar to Discuss Marine Energy Biofouling Approach

The BioFREE (Biofouling in Renewable Energy Environments) project has started data collection from biofouling monitoring systems deployed across international marine renewable energy (MRE) test centres.

A webinar will be hosted by IEA Ocean Energy Systems (OES) Annex IV to discuss current environmental research efforts in relation to tackling biofouling on 1st March.

An investigation on biofouling in highly energetic environments has been undertaken by Heriot Watt University’s International Centre of Island Technology (HWU-ICIT) and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).

Supported by Interreg North West Europe FORESEA Programme, test frames designed by HWU-ICIT and EMEC were populated with Whitford Ltd panels composed of different materials and anti-fouling coatings. The test frames were deployed at EMEC’s four test sites in July 2018.

The BioFREE test frames were also deployed at test centres, utilising the International WaTERS network, in Japan, the US and Chile, to gather data on biofouling and corrosion.

A data collection campaign using the BioFREE frames was successfully completed in October 2018, an analysis has since been carried out by HWU-ICIT, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Innovation Placement Fellowship.

The findings aim to inform best practice and contribute to reducing costly impacts of marine growth and inform the latest technological advances for the MRE industry as it advances.

Initial results indicate that the main fouling species vary considerably between geographic locations, hydrodynamic conditions, depth, substrate and coating type.

Fouling at the EMEC test sites was mainly dominated by hydroids, immobile relatives of jellyfish, especially in higher tidal flow habitats. These results contrast dramatically from findings at other test sites. For example, at the tidal test site in Japan, late summer fouling is dominated by large barnacles.

Similarities in common fouling groups are found internationally. For example, while barnacles prove to be a major fouling burden globally, important differences are apparent based on location, species, size, and seasonality of fouling.

Further results from the BioFREE project will be discussed at the webinar held on 1st March, 15:00 GMT. Webinar participants from EMEC, HWU-ICIT, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Whitford Ltd will focus discussion on both micro and macrofouling as well as industry perspectives on antifouling and anticorrosion coatings.

Andrew Want, Research Associate in Marine Ecology at ICIT, explains: “Deployments of the BioFREE monitoring system with partner test sites is providing vital information gathered from different geographical regions with site-specific fouling and corroding species. This information will support the industry in planning anti-fouling strategies tailored to specific locations.”

Gareth Berry, Whitford Ltd, stated:

The use of coatings to protect marine energy devices from fouling is a global issue. The BioFREE project has provided a significant amount of useful data, which without doubt will be incorporated within our future coating technology developments. We are pleased to have been involved with the project and look forward to continuing this research.”