Maintenance costs for ships are increasing as a result of increasing legislation and regulation. The average cost for applying paint to a new ship can be less than $1.50/sq.m. but up to $50/sq.m. to repair it during the vessel's life.
Since the late 1990s, marine coating processes have changed due to advanced material developments, changed production systems and international regulations. The application of concurrent engineering and production approaches reduces the timeframes for marine coating processes. Marine coating is not just a complex technology area due to the large variety of production parameters but also because different industrial parties are involved with competing objectives. Ship owners, shipyards, marine paint suppliers, classification societies and public authorities have different intentions during the lifecycle of a ship, with various, often competing, objectives, e.g. economy, technical performance, environmental influence, and health and safety conditions.
Apart from the different objectives, the technical background of the parties involved is often diverse and therefore the introduction and acceptance of new technologies and concepts can be slow. Thus there is a need to stimulate the communication and provide common baseline information to introduce new coating technologies.
The aim of EcoDock (formerly GreenDock) was to evaluate how the coating performance for ships could be improved thus saving considerable money throughout the vessel's life. The overall objectives of EcoDock were to:
- improve the performance of marine coatings during the ship lifetime;
- reduce environmental impact of marine coatings during the ship life cycle;
- provide independent assessment of marine coating systems with regard to economy, technical performance, environmental influence, health and safety conditions;
- establish a European communication platform to stimulate the information exchange of all parties involved;
- speed up the application of advanced environmentally friendly materials and production processes in ship new building, repair and operation.
The technological developments in the work programme were focused on paint systems that were most relevant according to the economy, technical performance, environmental impact, and health and safety issues. Although the relevance depends on the vessel type, the main areas of interest were:
- corrosion protection in ballast tanks and cargo holds;
- antifouling at underwater areas;
- visual impressions of the superstructure.
The results were expected to fill a gap in the market, to provide the ship owners with an independent data source on selecting the right generic product type for their needs while understanding the yard implications.
The research was performed by three yards (cruise liner, container ships and a repair yard), four research institutes (school of marine science and marine technology, health and safety, synthetic polymers and resins, innovation management), a classification society and a paint consultant.
The project work revolved around seven interrelating tasks as listed below.
WP1 - Development of advanced paint systems - supported the development and evaluation of advanced marine paint systems in order to meet the requirements of the yard, the ship-owner and international regulations and standards. EcoDock did not develop a new paint but provided supporting research and basic knowledge on issues identified as most relevant for the yards.
WP2 - Application technologies for advanced paint systems - included benchmarking and test of coating systems and specification and evaluation of surface preparation and paint application technologies for advanced paint systems in order to achieve best product performance in different production environment.
WP3 - Performance assessment of advanced paint systems - developed and established standardised test methods and criteria for quality assessment of marine paints. The focus was on anti-corrosion testing in ballast tanks and cargo holds, anti-fouling properties of the ship hull and the optical appearance of the superstructure. Available test methods were mostly focused on ship new building. The work package also investigated the coating performance for ship in operation and ship repair.
WP4 - Assessment of health and safety conditions for marine paints - Almost all coating materials in the shipyards contain hazardous components. This task analysed the effects and improvements of advanced coating materials and application technologies on the working conditions. A respective measurement methodology was developed, measurements performed during the production process, and requirements defined to improve operational safety. A key issue addressed in order to improve working conditions was the optimisation of ventilation systems.
WP5 - Assessment of environmental influence of advanced paint systems - provided information on the short-term environmental impact of shipyard processes regarding distribution of anti-fouling biocides in the environment. These examinations were complemented by the development of a method for the determination of biocide leach rates from anti-fouling paints. The waste management a
The main results achieved in within the project can be summarised as follows:
- Comprehensive background information on paint characteristics including:
- Polymer binders
- Anti-corrosion efficiency of pigments
- Film formation
- Self-cleaning properties on the basis of titaniumdioxide
- Impact of nanocomposits
- Benchmarking of ballast tank and hard underwater coatings
- Application of silicon-based foul-release coating systems
- State-of-the-Art analysis for paint removal in ship repair
- Concept for robotic application of paint in ship repair
- Development and verification of test methods for anti-fouling and anti-corrosion performance measurements as well as internal stress
- Development of method to measure energy consumption
- Concept for the improvement of ventilation systems to reduce the impact during paint applications
- Software tool to support health and safety assessment of paint systems
- Optimisation of release rate measurements
- Software demonstrator to support documentation according to IMO P SP C directive
- EcoDock Internet Site