Marine Shipping

Biofouling Challenges

Marine Coatings
in Industry

The global shipping industry transports approximately 80% of the world’s goods.

When compared to other forms of transportation, it is the most energy-efficient method of moving large volumes of cargo.

In Canada’s Great Lakes and St. Laurence Seaway, 1 tonne of cargo can travel 394km on 1 litre of fuel compared to 226km via train and 49km by truck.

The underwater hulls of marine vessels are coated with a “marine coating” to provide general protection as well as protection against fouling and corrosion. The amount of energy required to propel marine vessels through the water is proportional to their hydrodynamic performance.

The chosen coating “system” can significantly affect this performance as it relies on both the surface nature of the coating and its interaction with fouling organisms.[1]

[1] UNCTAD, “Review of Maritime Transport,” United Nations, Geneva, 2015

Bottom paint is the new bottom line.

Once a surface, such as a ship’s hull, enters a marine environment, it is traditionally rapidly colonized by a range of aquatic species known as ‘biofouling’. Biofouling negatively impacts fuel efficiency by increasing a ship’s resistance in the water. A ship with a heavy coating of slime can require up to 38% more energy to maintain the same speed as an identical vessel with a clean hull.[1]

For this reason, GIT has created XGIT-Fuel — the first patented graphene-based technology specifically tailored to increase vessel fuel efficiency & hydrodynamic performance.

XGIT-Fuel is a biocide-free hard foul release type coating. The coating’s low evaporation rate (VOC) minimizes the loss of material consumption and its low odor provides an ideal work environment for workers during application. Moreover, due to the hardness of XGIT-Fuel it can easily undergo underwater hull cleanings without damaging the structural integrity of the coating. This allows for smoother and faster hull maintenance, cutting drydock times and expenses for the ship owner.

The coating’s low volatile organic content (VOC) minimizes the loss of material once the coating dries; which prevents excess consumption during application, production delays and improves the bottom line.

Coating Technology Life Cycle


Current solutions can have adverse effects on marine life.

Antifouling coatings have been a longstanding solution to prevent the accumulation of marine organisms. They have been used extensively by the industry, and usually rely on the leaching of toxic substances such as:

  • Copper (metallic)
  • Cuprous Oxide
  • Heavy metals (Lead)
  • Arsenic-based coatings
  • TributylTin (TBT-based compounds)
  • Zinc oxide

All of the above coatings, albeit at different levels, have adverse effects on aquatic life including a broad range of marine organisms such as oysters, marine mammals and fish. In January of 2008, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) banned the use of TBT-based coatings applied to all vessel types. To combat this change, antifouling paints were made with high concentrations of copper, leading to new environmental issues such as dead zones.

The increased awareness of environmental issues combined with the increase in bunker fuel price (the main source of ship fuel) due to IMO2020 (resolution to decrease sulphur content on the shipping industry) are the primary reasons for the shipping industry to search for alternative marine coating solutions.

The effect of underwater radiated noise (URN) pollution is more painful than any other factor for marine animals [2]. Most marine animals are alarmed by the alien sounds, and at elevated levels for a prolonged period it can result in death due to hemorrhages, changed diving pattern,
migration to newer places, and an overall panic response to the foreign sounds [2]. The  underwater noise can disrupt the flow of communication between marine animals and can cause problems when calling their mates, looking for food or even making a cry for help under such circumstances. [2]

Our new marine coating is developed for a green shipping industry.

The fuel saving potential of foul release type coatings versus antifouling type coatings has proven to be as high as a 10% increase over the complete life-cycle of each coating type. Coating multiple vessels or a vessel fleet will only further amplify the cost and emission savings provided by this unique technology.

Smart coatings technologies aim to tackle and solve complex issues by being part of the solution, with the end goal of solving the environmental crisis and saving money for the shipping industry.


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