In 1993 research began on developing a new, long-lasting, non-toxic method of protecting ship hulls: Ecospeed. The coating system was introduced into the market in 2002. We interviewed Manuel Hof, Production Executive for Subsea Industries, to discuss the benefits Ecospeed has for specific targeted audiences.
Manuel Hof: Ecospeed is an environmentally safe underwater hull coating system that improves a ship's performance and provides it with long-term protection. It consists of a unique, entirely original and thoroughly proven system that combines the advantages of an easy-to-apply superior coating, a surface treatment for hydrodynamic optimization and a long term underwater maintenance service system. Ecospeed can be applied to all types of vessels, but our focus right now lies on ice-going vessels and cruise ships and ferries. Both newbuild and existing vessels.
Manuel: The benefits for ships facing harsh icy conditions are durability, corrosion protection of the steel and resistance to impact with ice. In short: protecting the asset, the hull of the ship. Ecospeed is a certified abrasion resistant coating. Owners are allowed to reduce the thickness of the steel of the ice belt if this area is coated with Ecospeed. This gives them a significant financial benefit during newbuild projects. Ecospeed is one of only a few coatings that have received this certificate.
The idea to market Ecospeed as a coating for ice-going vessels grew organically as a consequence of the excellent results. The coating system had been applied on some ice-going ships when we got the request to test Ecospeed on an ice-breaker. We went ahead and coated one half of the hull while the other half was coated with a traditional ice-going paint, a leader in the field. The ship docked again six months later and Ecospeed was still in perfect condition, especially compared to the other coating. This showed us that Ecospeed was suited for ice-breakers as well and could withstand even the harshest conditions.
Another ice-breaker, British Antarctic Survey’s RRS (Royal Research Ship) Ernest Shackleton is one of our best references. Ecospeed was applied eight years ago in 2009. Since then the ship has docked several times. Only a few liters were required for small touch-ups. The second docking took place after operating for four years in severe ice conditions. Following the performance on Ernest Shackleton, the hard coating was applied in 2015 to the hull of sister ship, RRS James Clark Ross. Results were again exemplary. Ecospeed has also been selected for RRS Sir David Attenborough. The 15,000gt research vessel, scheduled for operational duties in 2019, will be one of the most advanced polar research vessels in the world.
Cruise and ferry
Manuel: A second focus is on cruise ships and ferries. While these vessels also benefit greatly from the corrosion protection Ecospeed offers, the efficiency of hulls treated with the coating system is maybe even more important. Ecospeed is applied once and can be cleaned as often as needed without restrictions and without damage to the coating. Even long stationary periods of six months or longer in tropic waters offer no problem. Ecospeed is designed to be cleaned. Other products also have to be cleaned, but were not designed for this. Foul-release coatings are not meant for cleaning, but to keep their speed they have to be cleaned anyway.
Cleanings are easy to organize because these ships are sailing on a fixed route. Ferries go from a to b and back and cruise vessels also go to fixed points with a schedule that is know well in advance. We can therefore easily implement a cleaning schedule. This allows owners to keep the friction of the hull low.
One major cruise line has been quoted as saying that they are saving 10% on fuel costs with Ecospeed compared to the earlier TBT coating which they replaced. Another cruise ship found that they gained 1.5 knots over sea trials speed when they replaced their hull coating with Ecospeed.
Manuel: All members of our coating family are ecologically safe. When we started to develop Ecospeed back in 1998, this was one of our main goals. It still is.
In 2008, stringent independent tests were carried out to provide scientific data and to authenticate the non-toxicity of the Ecospeed hull performance technology. This research proved that the coating is 100% free of toxic substances and that there is no negative effect on the water quality or the marine environment at any point of its application or use. Moreover, the massive amounts of VOC and zinc anode emission associated with conventional hull coating systems are reduced to almost zero.
VG-Shipping, the ship management arm of the Meriaura Group has selected Ecospeed for its environmentally-safe cargo ship newbuilds. Both their 4700dwt EcoCoasters have now been coated with our Ecospeed hard coating above and below the water line in VG Shipping’s red and blue livery. VG-Shipping explained us that they “didn’t want to use a traditional antifouling system because of the chemicals that they contain and found the Ecospeed solution was the most effective coating system for reducing drag.” With Ecospeed they are also permitted to clean the hull underwater in the ports where they operate without damaging its waters and sediments.
Ecospeed was also applied on the hull of the multi-purpose research vessel Imor in Gdańsk, Poland. Owned by the Maritime Institute in Gdańsk, this catamaran was designed to perform a range of tasks such as oceanographic measurements and hydrographic or geophysical operations. Due to the nature of these tasks, the ecological benefits Ecospeed offers were very important in deciding on the coating.
In both examples the use of a 100% environmentally safe underwater ship hull coating was essential in fulfilling the ecological goals of the owners. Ecospeed offers a perfect lasting solution for any individual or company that takes its environmental responsibility seriously.
The purpose of Ecospeed is to offer a long-lasting, non-toxic protection to all types of ships. This is done by providing a system that keeps the hull very smooth and free of fouling for the service life of the vessel with minimal repair and no replacement.
Many other case studies can be found on this website. With some vessels sailing for ten years and counting without requiring repainting.