Does Ultrasonic Antifouling Work?

Mar 26, 2021 | Antifouling Tips

Does Ultrasonic Antifouling Work?

There’s no denying that boat owners face a plethora of maintenance tasks to keep their sea-faring vessels safe, secure, and in good condition. Ask any boat owner about their least favourite maintenance task, and they’ll likely respond with the same answer: antifouling.

Antifouling is one of those maintenance tasks that boat owners tend to put off until they reach a point where it must get done. You already know the purpose of antifouling is to help avoid microorganisms attaching themselves to the hull of your boat.

Why Traditional Antifouling Is Bad News

The traditional way of keeping your boat’s hull free of microorganisms is by applying a layer of protective paint. Arguably the most significant issue of such an endeavour is the paint is toxic to marine life.

Such paints are toxic because they do not discriminate on the types of marine life they affect. In 2008, organotin tributyltin (TBT) got banned by the European Union from antifouling paint products.

Antifouling coatings manufactured since then contain ingredients that are less dependent on biocides. However, there’s no evidence to suggest the long-term impact of these ‘improved’ coatings are more friendly to marine life.

In 2020, a scientific research team from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory studied the effects of historic and modern antifouling paint particles on marine life. The research looked at how the paint particles affected harbour ragworms and common cockles.

The study determined the weight and feeding rate of harbour ragworms from modern antifouling paints containing biocides got significantly decreased. The scientists also observed a 100% mortality rate in the common cockles.

When making the same observations with non-biocide coatings, they found that the same types of marine life were also negatively affected. They also noted it could have severe implications for estuarine ecosystem health.

8 Advantages of Ultrasonic Antifouling

The good news is there’s a solution that isn’t harmful to aquatic life, nor does it require extended time investment by boat owners to antifoul their boats’ hulls.

Ultrasonic antifouling isn’t a new technology as it’s been around for over three decades, but it’s become more popular in the marine industry in the past five to six years.

Still, it begs the question: does ultrasonic marine antifouling work? In short, the answer is yes.

Here are eight advantages of this exciting ultrasonic barnacle protection​ and why it’s an effective antifouling technology that you should embrace:

1. Ultrasonic Antifouling Offers Scientifically-Proven Results

Let’s face it: if you’re going to invest in new antifouling technology, you want to know that it works and that you’re not wasting your time and money. Thankfully, there is plenty of scientific research to prove that the technology works.

For example, a 2016 study by a research team from Brunel University lowered a two-square metre plate with ultrasonic transducers into seawater for 35 days. They measured the results photographically and concluded that ultrasonic antifouling technology is extremely effective.

2. The Technology Is Non-Toxic and Isn’t Harmful to Marine Life

The traditional antifouling techniques revolved around applying a coating to the hull of a boat. As you’ve read earlier, such coatings are very harmful to aquatic life – and not just the microorganisms that attract barnacles.

In comparison, ultrasonic antifouling uses high-frequency signals transmitted via transducers mounted inside the hull to deter microorganisms. It does not introduce any foreign body into the water, does not use any chemicals and is therefore 100% non-toxic.

It is also worth noting that the design of ultrasonic systems means that only relatively low power transducers are required to transmit the ultrasonic frequencies. These transducers can provide effective protection by creating localised cavitation around the hull without the ultrasonic frequencies being transmitted through the water. This means that ultrasonic antifouling poses no risk to marine life such as dolphins or whales.

3. Less Wave-Making Resistance

When you have a boat with no fouling on the hull, there is less wave-making resistance than another boat with biofouling. A research study by the University of Strathclyde and the University of Malta in 2020 confirmed this was the case.

It, therefore, makes sense to have a hull free of biofouling. The hull will be more streamlined, thus maintain speed in the water and result in greater efficiency and performance. In turn, that also means less fuel gets used to propel the boat in the water.

Ultrasonic antifouling is the perfect way to keep your boat’s hull free of microorganisms and biofouling.

4. The Technology Is Cost-Effective

Once you purchase and install ultrasonic antifouling, you’ll soon discover its cost-effectiveness – especially if your boat gets used regularly.

You won’t need to spend money on hauling your boat out of the water, buying antifouling coatings, and applying those paints regularly. In short, the technology will eventually pay for itself, and your boat can spend more of its time in service.

If you operate service vessels, it’s crucial that your boats are operational as much as possible. Ultrasonic marine antifouling can help you achieve that goal.

5. There Are Ultrasonic Antifouling Solutions to Suit All Boats

As you can appreciate, large boats will require different ultrasonic antifouling solutions to smaller ones. The good news is, there are ultrasonic antifouling solutions to suit all vessels:

  • For ribs less than 10 metres long, we recommend the EFC100;
  • For boats and catamarans up to 10 metres, the EFC200 is an ideal solution. Catamarans will ideally need two EFC200s;
  • For boats 10 metres to 20 metres long, you should consider the EFC300, and we recommend two EFC300s for catamarans.

We also offer ultrasonic antifouling solutions for large commercial vessels, sea chests and pipes; contact us to determine the best solution for your specific requirements.

6. Easy Installation

Another advantage of ultrasonic antifouling solutions is how they are easy to install and require no through-hull drilling. Plus, they can operate on AC shore power or DC power through a solar setup.

7. Reliable Performance

When you use ultrasonic marine antifouling, you can depend on the solution to actively protect your boat’s hull against biofouling. The transducers are all intelligently controlled to ensure optimum power and maximum cleaning efficiency.

8. They Are Useful for Many Commercial Applications

You might assume that ultrasonic antifouling technology is only for boats and sea-faring vessels. But, the solutions are also applicable to other commercial applications, such as fix offshore installations.

If you’re interested in learning more about ultrasonic antifouling, feel free to check out our brochure here, or contact to your EFC dealer.