Lab testing shows Shipshave’s ITCH system ensures integrity of hull coatings

Member news | 28 February 2024
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Testing of the ITCH has demonstrated it safeguards the integrity of hull coatings. Image: Shipshave

Independent laboratory testing has confirmed there is no decrease in the thickness of hull coatings from the use of Shipshave’s In-Transit Cleaning of Hulls (ITCH) solution, thereby addressing a key industry concern over adoption of the innovative system.

The Endures laboratory in the Netherlands was enlisted by Norwegian technology developer Shipshave to perform thorough tests to investigate the impact on the thickness and roughness of anti-fouling coatings from repeated brushing with the ITCH system.

Extensive testing

A number of coated panels treated with two main anti-fouling coatings – self-polishing copolymers (SPC) and fouling release coatings (FRC) – from three suppliers were exposed to natural sea water over a two-month period and then subjected to a test simulating one year of monthly proactive cleaning, with the layer thickness and surface roughness of the coating measured before, during and after cleaning.

Testing was carried out using four different brushes with varying fibre thickness placed at different angles on the ITCH system.

The semi-autonomous hull-cleaning robot, which can be deployed by a ship’s crew from a portable winch mounted on the forecastle deck, swipes up and down the hull underwater in transit using hydrodynamic energy to remain attached to the hull.

The newly published test report concluded that “no decrease in coating thickness could be found for all brush types used on all coatings” and therefore that “the ITCH can be used as a tool to remove fouling as it does not influence or reduce the coating thickness”.

The testing did show some increase in surface roughness, with no further increase after initial brushing, but the resulting roughness was still well within what is considered acceptable for a well-performing, freshly coated hull. Consequently, the “increase in roughness is neglectable from a hydrodynamical point of view”, according to the report.

Increasing ITCH rollouts

The report confirms that proactive cleaning using the ITCH can be performed without any adverse effects to the hull coating, based on rigorous design parameters for the tests.

The positive impact from proactive hull cleaning has been verified in real-life usage of the system that supports test findings from the laboratory.

Shipshave is seeing increasing fleet-wide implementation of the ITCH by major clients following successful trials that have shown significant savings in fuel consumption due to reduced hull drag from removal of biofouling while in transit. Major clients include Stolt Tankers, Klaveness Combination Carriers and Teekay Tankers.

As well as reduced fuel costs and emissions, the solution is able to cut hull inspection and maintenance costs, and ease CII compliance without structural modifications, as well as limit the transfer of invasive species between different ports.

Shipshave’s CEO Aage Hoejmark says the results from the lab tests mirroring real-world conditions corroborate the actual operating experience reported by clients in using the technology. “This consistency between lab results and field performance validates our claims and reinforces customer confidence in our product,” he says.

“Confirmation from a third party that the ITCH has a negligible effect on fresh hull coatings directly addresses the industry’s concerns regarding impact on the coating. The comprehensive and detailed Endures report will both allay industry scepticism and bolster the already strong trust we have established in the market, encouraging wider adoption of the system,” Hoejmark adds.

Attracting industry interest

The coating suppliers and a shipowner that were involved both in the approval and set-up of the test have followed the laboratory findings with great interest as the industry has been keen to establish the ITCH technology is a reliable solution for hull cleaning that safeguards anti-fouling coatings while contributing to enhanced operational efficiency and decarbonisation, according to Shipshave.

“This should pave the way for broader acceptance and utilization of the ITCH, as it clearly demonstrates its value and effectiveness in a tangible and credible manner,” Hoejmark says.

“These positive results assure that our innovative technology not only meets but exceeds current industry standards, providing a sustainable, high-performing solution. We are committed to continual improvement and transparency, ensuring that our equipment remains at the forefront of industry advancements.”

For more information contact:

Richard Aleksander Tjosvoll

Chief Sales Officer

Shipshave AS

Tel: +47 928 24 498


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