A West Australian company has invented a machine to ‘de-foul’ boats
27 February 2015
A Western Australian company has invented an underwater vacuum to clean boats while they are still in water.
The company is trialling the ‘in-water de-fouling’ machine in Perth this week.
Bio-foul is the build up of organisms on the side of marine vessels, slowing down boats and creating biosecurity risks.
Since 1997 boats in Western Australia have been required to de-foul every five years, which means scraping all sea creatures, growth and often paint off the vessel.
But with no facilities to clean boats over 120 metres long in WA, ships have had to dry dock in countries like Singapore, often costing several million dollars.
However the WA Government hopes a new invention, called the Envirocart, reduces the need for boats to dry dock at all.
The machine works like an under water vacuum cleaner, removing any growth or organisms and grinding them to less than a human hair’s width.
This means exotic sea creatures and pests that may have been a threat to the state’s fisheries and biosecurity are obliterated.
Minister for Fisheries Ken Baston said he was impressed by the invention, which recently won a coveted Golden Gekko award from the State Government.
“Well it looks like something out of the space age quite frankly,” he said.
“It’s got nylon bristles in it but they don’t actually work right on the surface, they give a 15 millimetre clearance which means when they are cleaning the side of a ship, they don’t take off the de-foul.
“I believe the American navy spent million of dollars trying to adapt something like this so this is a world breakthrough.”
Roger Dyhberg from Franmarine, the company who invented the Envirocart, said the fully portable cart had the ability to revolutionise the shipping industry.
“You know if you are a boatie the fundamental is you want a clean hull so your yacht sails faster and your boat goes faster through the water and that’s the same for commercial operators,” he said.
Department of Fisheries biosecurity section leader Victoria Atkin said the machine was the first to be tested against the new in-water cleaning standards, which were set late last year.
“We have tens of thousands of vessel movements coming into WA every year and they all have some level of bio-fouling on them, so they are a really big biosecurity risk for WA,” she said.
“What’s good is that we have this new guidance statement that shows what people can do and what people need to do so that they can do it in a way that’s endorsed by the department and much lower risk for WA.”