ICIT, EMEC study biofouling of marine energy technologies

ICIT conducting biofouling studies on EMEC waverider buoy (Photo: ICIT)
ICIT conducting biofouling studies on EMEC waverider buoy (Photo: ICIT)

The initial stages of a project looking at biofouling solutions for marine renewables has been completed by the International Centre of Island Technology (ICIT), in collaboration with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Heriot-Watt’s Energy Academy.

The project was focused on the development of a knowledge network enabling biofouling experts to work with marine energy test site personnel and technology developers to gather data, share knowledge and to formulate expertise on the specific aspects of biofouling that are relevant to the marine renewables industry, EMEC’s press release reads.

The initial field research was carried out at EMEC’s wave and tidal energy test sites to identify common fouling organisms found in Orkney waters.

Biofouling is the settlement and growth of organisms on submerged structures which poses a major concern to industries working in the marine environment, according to EMEC.

The hydrodynamic and mechanical consequences of biofouling organisms on marine energy converters are of particular concern as they may decrease efficiency of energy generation, and accelerate corrosion of marine metals affecting the survivability of the technology.

ICIT aims to build on this initial study to identify innovative solutions to mitigate these issues.

Joanne Porter, Associate Professor Marine Biology at ICIT, said: “Biofouling is a ubiquitous problem for any industry putting structures or vessels into the marine environment, however there are specific issues regarding biofouling for the marine renewable energy industry. By sharing data with other test centres we can build up a clearer picture to fill any knowledge gaps and help marine energy developers using these facilities drive down the cost of energy from their technology.”

Matthew Finn, Senior Business Development Manager at EMEC, added: “Ideally we’d like to develop a map of biofouling in key strategic areas for the marine industries around Orkney, and then expand it to include other key marine renewables sites around the world.”

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