Case Studies

GRD Franmarine’s revolutionary in water capture and containment hull cleaning technology, Envirocart, is changing the face of marine biofouling.

Innovation challenge: Hull cleaner leaves Rainbow Warrior ship shape

1 September 2015

Article by Cheryl Jones, The Australian

Technology developed by a West Australian company to clean ship hulls underwater to remove shellfish and other marine organisms was used this year on the Rainbow Warrior. The Envirocart technology, developed by Roger Dyhrberg and his team at Franmarine Underwater Services in Fremantle, was used on the Greenpeace ship in April, Greenpeace technical manager David Edward said.

Mr Dyhrberg and colleagues won the Environment, Agriculture and Food category prize in The Australian Innovation Challenge awards last year for the in water hull cleaning and filtration system.

The awards are run by The Australian in association with Shell with the support of the federal Department of Industry and Science. The challenge has five professional categories, a backyard innovation section open to all, and a young innovators section for students aged 21 years or under. Entries close on September 7.

The Envirocart machine, which is operated by divers, has rotating discs fitted with blades that dislodge marine organisms by creating a vortex near them or by shearing them. The blades do not touch the hull, so its expensive antifouling paint remains intact, the company says.

The biological fouling and debris are caught and pumped to the surface where they enter a filtration unit and ultraviolet treatment system that removes and destroys any living organisms.

Envirocart is designed to strengthen defences against the transport of exotic species on ship hulls into Australian waters.

Regular use of the technology could also cut maritime industry fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions by removing fouling, which causes drag on hulls, the company said.

Mr Edward said the Rainbow Warrior treatment had been effective. “The cleaning was and is done on a regular basis to remove fouling from the nontoxic coating on the hull,” Mr Edward said. “Fouling reduces the speed and efficiency of the vessel.

“The collection and filtration of fouling … involves a significant amount of equipment, which does increase the cost substantially compared with systems that do not collect and filter.”