Underwater hull cleaning of vessels is considered necessary for their efficient operation due to the high operating costs resulting from the extensive biofouling of organisms attached to the vessels’ hull. This biofouling, or in other words the development of sedentary marine organisms at the hulls of the ships, causes increased fuel consumption, itinerary delays and increases emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, thus enhancing the carbon footprint of maritime activities.
Bio fouling is also responsible for the transfer of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) around the globe, which is now considered one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and conservation. There are ways of mitigating biofouling, but to date it is almost impossible to bring it completely to an end.
Invasive Alien Species (IAS)
In the absence of an integrated management and treatment plan of IAS introduced with ship hulls, there is an increasing world concern of both stakeholders and environmental organizations regarding the environmental impact resulting from the potential establishment and dispersion of IAS, that may escape from in water hull cleaning of vessels.
Taking into account the gaps in the existing underwater hull cleaning methods and the waste management of hull cleaning operations, our proposal aims at designing, constructing and usage of an underwater hull cleaning system capable of: (a) capturing the biofouling that is removed from vessels’ hull during underwater hull cleaning (b) separating biofouling by returning water free of any IAS to the sea; and (c) managing bio-waste properly for the purpose of processing and utilizing it wherever possible.
The Study Area
The proposed study area is the Saronikos Gulf, one of the hot spot areas of alien species in the Greek seas. More specifically, ECOHULLCLEAN will focus in the area of the inner part of Saronikos and Gulf of Elefsina, where hull cleaning is mainly being performed.
The Expected Outcome
A risk assessment of those alien species identified during the study will contribute to proposals for timely management measures by the state, in line with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Commission Regulation 1143/2014.
At the same time, optimal management methods and potential solutions for exploiting bio-accumulated material from the ship's hulls for re-use (circular economy) will be considered. Life Cycle Analysis will be applied to evaluate the best bio-waste treatment methods in the pilot application. Proposals will then be developed to implement the system's results on a larger scale (scaling-up). The proposed product will be a landmark for protecting the environment from the invasion of IAS. It will be a pioneer and innovative technology that can capture the IAS and process them or dispose of them in an ecosystem friendly manner. It will therefore trigger a reform of legislation on vessels’ underwater hull cleaning and will substantially improve the environmental footprint of ships along with Ballast Water Treatment Technology.
Benefits - Added Value
The main long-term and short-term benefits of ECOHULLCLEAN project are the following:
Ship fuel savings and fuel cost reduction.
of the environmental footprint of the ships.
Awareness raising of stakeholders on biodiversity issues and on the protection of the marine environment.
Creation of new jobs for specialized personnel
Minimization of the spread of invasive alien species between continents / seas.
Effective management and use of biowaste from ship hulls.
Contribution to the circular economy
in the Shipping sector of the country.
Minimization of air pollution (greenhouse gas emissions).