AN INNOVATIVE BIOFOULING
INSPECTION AND CLEANING TOOL
SleekShip combines hyperspectral imagery and cavitation cleaning.
Thanks to an ultra-compact design, SleekShip will allow cutting operating costs by a factor 2.
SAFE AND EFFICIENT
Using a semi-autonomous robotic system, SleekShip eliminates the need for human divers.
Non-expert personnel can easily operate SleekShip with minimum training.
About the project
The build-up of marine fouling on hulls can significantly alter the hydrodynamics of the ship, increasing drag, fuel consumption and emissions, and favor the transport of invasive species. There is currently no efficient way to evaluate the hull fouling condition when the ship is in the water, and taking it out results in down-time that is costly for ship operators. Furthermore, if a ship is not taken out regularly for inspection, the likelihood of biofouling having progressed increases, resulting in the need for harsher cleaning methods that can damage the hull painting or coating. The EU-funded SleekShip project is developing a semi-autonomous underwater vehicle that will both detect slime at early stages using a multispectral camera and clean it softly with cavitation jetting. The operation can be done while the ship is docked at port for other operations or moored at sea.
Biofouling is a curse
The adhesion of marine life such as seaweeds or barnacles on a vessel’s hull can cause fuel consumption to rise by up to 40%1. Even light fouling can increase hull resistance (which in turn increases fuel consumption) by up to 10%1 leading to over one million euros in lost revenue per vessel per year in fuel overconsumption alone. Besides economic loss, the environmental implications of biofouling are immense. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that gas emissions, due to ships fuel consumption, may increase between 38% and 72% every three years2 , unless corrective measures are taken or new technologies are introduced3.
1 Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Analyzing the current market of hull cleaning robots, Dec.2016
2 European Maritime Safety Agency Facts & Figures 2017 – http://emsa.europa.eu/emsa-documents/latest.html
3 FOUL-X-SPEL, 2013