Innovations in antifouling systems for marine vessels
by Chris Ryan, Director, Marine Growth Prevention Specialists
MGPS are distributors for ShipSonic antifouling systems, based in Scotland. ShipSonic is manufactured in the Netherlands, with headquarters based in Goes in Zeeland and manufacturing facilties also in Den Bosch. MGPS Ltd's core mission is to take ShipSonic to the world and introduce it to the marine industry.
MGPS' backgrounds compliment this mission. Chris Ryan is a former deep-sea marine engineering officer on large cargo, offshore and passenger ships as well as a former tugboat Chief Engineer. The MGPS team also includes Gavin Fisher, a sales and marketing expert who has years of experience in the environmentally friendly antifouling sector. Managing Director, Sharon Owens, has a background in the medical fields giving her an understanding of the biological side of the equation.
Having worked together on various other projects in the past, including a rival antifouling system, MGPS came together in mid-2019 to bring an effective antifouling system to the marine industry that didn't itself have any environmental impact.
Having grown increasingly frustrated working with ultrasonic antifouling systems, seeing the hints of success behind the technology but struggling with reliability and inconsistent results, the team had tried to encourage distributors to engage in feedback and develop their product. However, most products are designed and aimed for the leisure boat market and few individuals involved with the sector seemed to wish to push this concept on into the next generation, for aquaculture and other forms of marine vessels.
Passionate about the industry and the marine environment, MGPS set out to find a system developed by like-minded souls. This is when they met the people behind ShipSonic. They had taken on an ultrasonic antifouling system that was also having intermittent results and, instead of pocketing the profits while they could, which they had invested in years of research and development, they brought in partnerships with major cooler manufacturers and even the Dutch Government. With the help of the Royal Dutch Institute of Sea Research in Yerseke they developed an effective, reliable and robust ultrasonic antifouling system.
Chris notes that he is sure, in the marine industry, readers experience hundreds of products and systems that are available, but you will rarely see a system that has such potential to truly revolutionise global shipping in the way ShipSonic will!
For hundreds of years, ship owners have recognised the effect that marine growth has on vessel performance. Starting in the days of the sail, they nailed copper plate to the bottom of a hull in an attempt to keep the bio fouling at bay. As years moved on, copper and poison-based paints and coatings were used and, today, this is still the mainstay of hull protection.
But these substances are horrific polluters of the sea. They are not selective in the creatures they kill. They will just as easily poison fish in the human food chain as they will a barnacle. And in sea chests and sea water inlets aboard ships the current practice is to dissolve copper anodes into the sea to stave off their growth. Every year the industry dissolves in excess of seven million kilograms into the sea from impressed current anode antifouling systems alone. And we haven't even mentioned the micro plastic pollution from the antifouling paints yet!
This attack on the marine environment can't go on! It is not sustainable and it's not healthy. Worst of all is it is often not even effective. In modern box cooler systems, where there is not a pumped flow of sea water, the dissolved copper sometimes simply falls out of the bottom of the sea chest, offering no protection in return for huge expense and high pollution rates.
We must be able to do better. And we can. That's what drives the team at MGPS. They know that there is an alternative. ShipSonic has been developed to the point where it now stands alone in the next generation of antifouling technology. MGPS are now on the frontline of a revolution in shipping that is long overdue and must and will come to fruition.
MGPS are bringing a system to the marine market that offers not just a way to keep barnacles and mussels at bay, but that offers ship owners a real reduction in fuel consumption and emissions. Marine growth can increase fuel consumption on vessels by as much as 40 percent, and just think of the increase in greenhouse gasses that causes!
Most carbon emission reductions solutions on the market are offering between one-to-five percent reductions. ShipSonic can offer double and even quadruple that reduction. As they refine their technology and ships designers adopt it at the design stage, who knows how much efficiency it could bring to world of shipping?
As you can probably guess, the MGPS team are extremely passionate about our role in this ecological revolution. Scots and the Dutch have a long history of successful ventures and this is no different. Together, MGPS and ShipSonic are going to change the shipping world forever.