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Hempel’s ‘invisible’ hull coating takes technology prize

Published on 2009-04-27. Author : SpecialChem

Hempasil X3 is an innovative new coating for ships' hulls that can save shipowners thousands of dollars in fuel bills and drastically cut the amount of CO2 released into the environment - and it has now won a prestigious award for outstanding product development and innovation.

Hempasil X3, the new antifouling coating developed by Denmark-based Hempel, has won Ingeniørens Product Award 2009. The prize is given by Ingeniøren, a magazine published by the Danish Society of Engineers, to new Danish products that demonstrate a clear market focus with outstanding technological innovation.

"We are extremely proud of this award," says Martin Wiese, Hempel's Group Vice President R&D. "It's the result of a clear development strategy that encourages direct collaboration between our Marketing and R&D departments to ensure that our R&D focuses directly on customer needs. More and more customers demand products that lower operating costs and help reduce the impact of their activities on the environment. Hempasil X3 does both these things. Our creative product engineers have taken an exciting idea and created a product with incredible economic and environmental potential."

'Invisible' hull guarantees fuel savings - and less CO2

Hempasil X3 is Hempel's third-generation fouling release coating system and uses pioneering hydrogel technology to stop fouling organisms (from biological slime and seaweed to barnacles) from attaching to a ship's hull. The hydrogel fools the organisms into thinking the ship's hull is liquid, essentially rendering the hull invisible so they don't attach. This keeps the hull smooth and reduces drag in the water.

As a result, Hempasil X3 can guarantee fuel savings of between four and eight per cent in the first year of use, depending on the vessel type. Hempel supplies SeaTrend®software as standard with Hempasil X3 to enable shipowners to measure the fuel-saving effects for themselves.

Hempasil X3 has the potential to save the world from millions of tonnes of CO2 each year, because less fuel means an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions from vessels. "Imagine Hempasil X3 was applied to the entire world fleet. Potentially, it could save the world from 90 million tonnes of CO2 a year, the same amount of CO2 emitted from Greece," says Torben Rasmussen, Group Product Manager at Hempel.

The technology behind the magic

Based on hydrogel silicone, Hempasil X3 is designed for vessel speeds down to eight knots and vessels operating at low activity. The hydrogel is made up of a network of water-insoluble, super-absorbent polymer chains, and these form a microlayer between the solid silicone and the seawater. Due to the high water content, the hydrogel appears as liquid to fouling organisms, making the hull 'invisible'.

About the Ingeniøren Prize

News magazine Ingeniøren is Denmark's leading publication in the fields of science and technology, providing high quality and objective information on a weekly basis. Each year, it selects the best new Danish products that show a clear market focus and outstanding technological development.

Source: Hempel


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