Discovery Magazine

Advanced Nontoxic Anti-Fouling Coatings Research, Test Site Facility

The static immersion test site and related research facilities are designed to satisfy three main criteria.

1. Provide quantitative feedback on the antifouling performance of prototype systems to researchers and coating formulators.

2. Provide a scientific understanding of antifouling/fouling-release behavior.

3. Provide predictive capabilities to help manage and select the best performing non-toxic antifouling methods for ship and boat operations.

The largest static immersion site consists of a 30' floating platform moored in a lagoon environment with variable salinity and high organic loading. This environment really challenges the performance of formulations subject to antifouling testing.

Static immersion tests under the direction of Dr. Swain have been in operation since 1984. There are ongoing studies to investigate the performance of new formulations, the long-term performance of silicone coatings, the mechanisms by which fouling-release is initiated, and the hydrodynamic and skin friction performance of antifouling and fouling-release coatings. These studies are run in collaboration with other research groups (Dr. Anthony Brennan, University of Florida; Dr. Maureen Callow, University of Birmingham; Dr Manoj Chaudhury, Lehigh University; Dr Mike Schultz, Naval Academy; Dr. Erwin Singer, Naval Research Lab; Dr Celia Smith, University of Hawaii; Hasan Palandoken, Aerojet Fine Chemicals).

Two methods of testing that have been developed and used at each static immersion site to quantify biofouling performance include a water jet method and a hard fouling adhesion test. The water jet method allows for  measurement of the tenacity of biofilms to the surface, and the hard fouling adhesion test allows for an assessment of the forces required to remove a fouling organism from the surface upon which it is adhered. This subsequent method was developed into an ASTM standard (D5618) in 1994.