Marine biofouling study



The University's International Centre of Island Technology (ICIT) is involved in a project looking at biofouling solutions for marine renewables, in conjunction with the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and Heriot-Watt's Energy Academy.

There are specific issues regarding biofouling for the marine renewable energy industry.
Dr Joanne Porter

Biofouling, the settlement and growth of organisms on submerged structures, poses a major concern to industries working in the marine environment.

The hydrodynamic and mechanical consequences of biofouling organisms on marine energy converters are of particular concern as they may decrease efficiency of energy generation, and accelerate corrosion of marine metals affecting the survivability of the technology.

The project was focused on the development of a knowledge network enabling biofouling experts to work closely with marine energy test site personnel and technology developers, and initial field research was carried out at EMEC's wave and tidal energy test sites to identify common fouling organisms found in Orkney waters.

Importance of data sharing

Dr Joanne Porter, Associate Professor Marine Biology at ICIT, said, “Biofouling is a ubiquitous problem for any industry putting structures or vessels into the marine environment, however there are specific issues regarding biofouling for the marine renewable energy industry. By sharing data with other test centres we can build up a clearer picture to fill any knowledge gaps and help marine energy developers using these facilities drive down the cost of energy from their technology.

“Further work is needed to understand how the timing of settlement of these types of organisms could impact the fouling of artificial structure deployment and maintenance schedules,”