Why is biofouling an issue?

Biofouling control is a key consideration for the deployment of marine instruments and platforms used for scientific research, military applications and commercial oceanography. The accumulation of biofouling decreases data quality, increases maintenance cost, and can limit the use of some sensor types and platforms for long term deployments.

In order to prevent inaccurate measurement and protect instruments from accumulating biofoul, solutions such as anti-fouling patches or active biocide pastes are used. Both of these methods, however, have a limited effectiveness over time and require reapplication.

Permanent biofouling protection for marine instruments

Unlike traditional antifouling systems, ClearSignal biofouling protection remains 100% effective with no diminishing performance. Developed by Hank Lobe at Severn Marine Technologies, ClearSignal is a multi-layer, silicon-based coating which acts as a biofouling inhibitor and is acoustically invisible, resulting in no impact on the performance of equipment.

The advanced material technologies used to achieve non-stick properties and performance enables this coating to protect an instrument for a lifetime. Additionally, ClearSignal is non-toxic, safe for all environments, and results in a significantly reduced service times due to much reduced biofouling and improved ease of cleaning.

Putting it to the test

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the solution, RS Aqua ran a short test on two Innovasea VR2W receivers in Port Solent Marina.  The aim was to showcase the vast difference in cleaning time between the two tracking receivers – one with the coating applied and one without.

The receivers were deployed for a total of 88 days, inclusive of warm water temperatures to ensure ideal parameters for biofoul accumulation.

After the trial, the receivers were inspected and several marine organisms were observed such as copepods, benthic worms, bryozoans and golden star tunicate.

After initial inspection of the receivers, the instrument coated with ClearSignal was visually less covered in biofoul than the uncoated.

Unsurprisingly, when it came to cleaning them the uncoated receiver took 8 minutes and 26 seconds to clean, whilst requiring heavy duty scrapers to remove barnacles. In contrast, the ClearSignal coated receiver took only 1 minute and 49 seconds and no need for heavy duty cleaning.

This short test indicated the benefits of coating the equipment with ClearSignal, improving the ease of use and reducing the downtime between deployments. This product is advantageous in any long-term deployment of equipment and could even improve data collection as a result of minimal biofouling interference.

RS Aqua now offer the ClearSignal® antifouling protection system which provides permanent protection for marine instrumentation such as ADCPs, CTDs and echosounders as well as submersible platforms such as buoyancy gliders.

ClearSignal is applied in a controlled facility using state-of-the-art industrial coating processes. The intended substrate and instrument type are significant engineering design components of the ClearSignal system. The product formulation is also adjusted for the particular marine application.


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