In contrast to the majority of self-polishing epoxy systems on the market, I-Tech’s Selektope substance is intended to stop the barnacles from establishing a foothold on the hull by stimulating barnacle larvae’s swimming behaviour effectively, making the larvae ‘hyperactive’ and keen to continue swimming, rather than slowing down to settle on the hull. Philip Chaabane, I-Tech managing director, tells Ship & Boat International: "It usually takes a week for the larvae to settle on the hull and reproduce and form barnacles. Selektope repels the larvae by making them swim away." Environmentalists will be pleased to learn that the effects of this neurological scrambling are temporary, with the larvae returning to normal functional capacity shortly after their brush with the Selektope-containing coating.
Chaabane explains that, for Selektope to function effectively, only a small amount needs to be added to the coating an amount constituting 0.1% of the coating’s overall constituency. This is especially miniscule in contrast to the amounts of copper biocides that are normally mixed into protective hull paints, he adds.
Selektope is the product of more than 10 years of development; work commenced on the substance at the University of Gothenburg, following the IMO decision to ban the application of tributyltin (TBT)-based paints on vessels as of 1 January 2003, and based on the desire to find viable alternatives to toxic and heavy metal-based coatings. In 2015, I-Tech received EC recognition for Selektope, enabling it to be included in anti-fouling products sold throughout the EU as of 1 January this year, in accordance with the terms of the EU Biocidal Products Directive. The substance has also been approved for use in Japan, China and South Korea.
So far, the first commercial trials of Selektope are being undertaken by Chugoku Marine Paints (CMP), which has included the substance in a new copper-free paint; according to CMP general manager for sales Masaya Hata, this paint is intended to replicate "the performance achieved by anti-fouling coatings before the TBT ban". The Selektope-infused trial solution will be applied to the side walls of Laurin Maritime’s 183m loa tanker Calypso during her first five-year survey at Singapore’s Sembcorp yard.