From mechanism for attachment and a single coating

From the many
antifouling and foul-release coatings and approaches that are currently being
researched there are three key areas that need attention: the coating itself
and the coatings interactions with both the substrate and the environment.

Issues faced by a large amount of coatings normally lie within one or more of
these sectors. The coating is either difficult to manufacture at a reasonable
cost or causes environmental concerns during manufacturing. Once the coating is
made, they often cannot be easily applied to the ships surface and this creates
additional costs in finding novel ways to achieve this. Finally, the coating
can interact unfavourably with particular fouling organisms in the environment
due to diversity causing each organism to have its own mechanism for attachment
and a single coating has difficulty in preventing all of these various methods.

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The ban of TBT
occurred for environmentally favourable reasons however many of the coatings
now being considered don’t have completely positive impacts on the environment
either. For example, foul-release coatings are responsible for species
transmission which has environmental effects in the loss of species from their
native communities and the invasion of regions that aren’t used to the presence
of these foreign species.

A major problem
that has been demonstrated is how to effectively release the antifouling compound
from the surface over time. Many coatings have struggled with the coatings
losing their antifouling abilities quite early on in their lifetimes. A push
for the use of microencapsulation techniques will allow a controlled release of
antifouling compounds and further clear research in this area will enable
current coatings to capitalise on this and possibly become a more suitable
antifouling product.

The modification
of nanoscale topography is a popular way of changing a surface however this
appears to only have small improvements on preventing marine fouling from the
original coatings therefore this method seems ineffective in preventing the
settlement of all foulers. The improvements are due to the variations in fouler
sizes and because foulers have a diverse range of sizes this method will allow
fouling to still take place.

From the coatings
considered in this paper, biomimicry is an area that has room for new ideas
therefore could be the best direction to focus attention in. The problem that
was evident was that the coatings developed either focused on the chemical or
physical antifouling attributes organisms present however this presents
limitations as successfully mimicking a specific single antifouling strategy
from one species is very difficult to accomplish. Therefore, it would be more
beneficial to use a synergistic approach where a combination of an organism’s
chemical and physical antifouling properties are considered as this would
create more ways for a coating to resist a wider spectrum of fouling organisms
from settlement.

Present modern
antifouling coatings present interim solutions to biofouling following TBT’s
ban however no coating is yet to meet the antifouling capabilities of this
coating. This means that continued research into the design and execution of
various antifouling approaches is vital for the best alternative to be found.