Antifouling wrap inspired by sea urchins

To prevent the growth of algae, barnacles and mussels on the hulls of boats, Dutch inventor Rik Breur designed Finsulate, an environmentally friendly antifouling wrap inspired by sea urchins.

Biofouling, or the growth of organisms like algae, barnacles and mussels on the hulls of boats can lead to many problems. These creatures add to the weight of the ship and creates drag, increasing fuel consumption. While there are antifouling paints available, these are often toxic and contain heavy metals that can be harmful for marine life. Removal of these creatures can be expensive.

Breur found inspiration for his foil in the sea urchin, which prickly surface repels unwanted settlers.

The wrap, called Finsulate, consists of nylon microfibres on one side and self-adhesive film on the other, and is applied like rolls of carpet. In the water, the constant swaying of the prickly nylon spikes creates an unattractive surface for biofouling. Additionally, the needles are packed so close together that marine life cannot grow on the spaces between them. The fibres have been extensively tested to ensure that they don’t fall off the boat’s hull as microplastic pollution.

The wrap, which is a greener alternative to antifouling paint, is effective both for moving and moored vessels, and it can also be used for maritime structures such as offshore wind turbines.

Finsulate is a finalist for the European Inventor Award 2019.

Photos: Finsulate