According to new research sponsored by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), biofouling from microorganisms and barnacles can increase the ship’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by as much as 55% via an increased drag and reduced fuel efficiency.
Apparently, the shipping industry deeply underestimated the effect of a thin biofouling layer on the ship’s hull surface and did not invest too much effort in keeping the hull clean.
A thin layer of biofouling of just 0.5mm covering 50% of the hull of a medium-sized vessel of 175m, can increase the GHG emission by 25%, and a 2.5 mm thick layer coverage of the 10% of 230m container ship, can increase the emissions by 34%. And finally, according to the report, a 5 mm layer covering just a mere 1% of a large-sized vessel of 230m is responsible for an increase of 55% of the carbon emissions.
The report is due to be published next month in February 2022 and clearly points out the importance for the shipping industry to manage properly the cleaning of the hull to be compliant with the target of a global GHG emission reduction.