Research looks at ways to minimize effects of biofouling in marine renewables

21 February 2018

The International Centre of Island Technology (ICIT) and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) are working together on a year-long project to research practical strategies to minimize the impacts of biofouling for the marine renewable energy (MRE) industry. 

Biofouling, the settlement and growth of organisms on submerged structures, is a major issue for the MRE industry. The presence of biofouling can decrease the efficiency of energy generation and lead to corrosion which can reduce the survivability of technologies.

Funded by NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, the ‘Biofouling in Renewable Energy Environments – Marine’ (BioFREE) project will focus on developing a knowledge network of biofouling experts to work closely with marine energy test sites and technology developers to gather data, share experiences, and formulate expertise on addressing biofouling impacts.

The aim of BioFREE is to increase energy efficiency and device reliability within the MRE industry by identifying, assessing and managing fouling organisms located in varying habitats with contrasting organisms and seasons.

The BioFREE project will also identify and promote the positive impacts that the MRE industry can have on the marine environment by exploring mooring systems designed to enhance habitats for certain species.

The field research will be carried out at EMEC’s wave and tidal energy test sites in partnership with other test centres in North and South America, Asia, and Europe, where various arrays of panels populated with anti-fouling coatings will be deployed to develop a standard operating procedure for MRE biofouling monitoring. The Marine Energy Research and Innovation Centre (MERIC) in Chile and The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Centre in Oregon are among the research centres that are involved.

 “The location of our campus in Orkney and our close working relationship with EMEC will provide maximum opportunities for our scientists to work closely together with developers to improve the knowledge regarding settlement of target fouling organisms. This knowledge will help develop enhanced antifouling solutions for the sector,” commented Joanne Porter, Associate Professor Marine Biology, ICIT. “ICIT and EMEC are keen to build the BioFREE network of partners, and urge interested parties to get in touch.” 

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