Protect your boat with a coating made from crustacean waste

A major problem for boat owners is that on the hull of the ship, mussels, algae, and barnacles start to grow. These creatures can damage the paint, slow down the boat, and can cause the boat to become off balance, so unless you like to keelhaul people, it’s best to prevent this kind of growth. This is possible by using various products, which are often toxic. Now, researchers at Ghent University (BE) have developed a new, sustainable coating, made from recycled crustacean waste.

The material is made from chitosan, a biobased component that is made from the shells of crustaceans. This substance has an antibacterial and fungicidal effect. The team at the Ghent University modified the material until it was able to prevent the growth of mussels, barnacles and algae on hulls.

Using crustacean waste to protect hulls has two advantages. Firstly, the material is non-toxic and biobased. In addition, a waste material is being reused in a sustainable way.

To test the material, part of the sailboat of Erik Kiekens, who leaves on 8 July for a sailing trip around the world. During this trip, the coating will prove its worth.

Ghent University is part of a worldwide network called Green Chemistry, which designs chemical products and processes that reduce the use of harmful substances or make them superfluous altogether. Other universities in this network include York (UK), Toulouse (FR), São Paulo (BR), Maastricht (NL), Tennessee (US), the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (DE), Zürich (CH), Sichuan and Hongkong (CN).

Photos: Wikimedia /