Present and future AMACORT projects

Doctoral research Raf Meskens
Anti-fouling protection on ships' hull - evaluation of recent developments and formulation of innovative alternatives

The goal of this project is the development of a standard allowing an objective comparison of existing and new anti-fouling coatings and techniques.

Standard test plates will be subjected to static and dynamic fouling and fouling release conditions in a near open sea situation, after coating and curing.

Micro fouling, and afterwards macro fouling, will be identified and quantified and a comparative database will be composed allowing an objective evaluation of the different types of coating in a test.

The testing will start early 2017.

Doctoral research Remke Willemen
The impact of application parameters on the sustainability of epoxy coatings

Surface preparation and conditioning of the environment are of major importance to the sustainability of (epoxy) coatings. The objective of this research is to validate the importance of application parameters on the coating performance and to identify the impact of some parameters independently. For instance, climatologic elements will be investigated, implicating temperature and humidity, as well as the degree of cleanness of the surface to be painted. The study of the parameters will be performed in a lab using standard grade A steel plates coated with a common pure epoxy coating in different conditions and subjected to an accelerated corrosion environment.

NATO project on ionic liquids

One innovative class of chemical compounds which may lead to anticorrosion and antifouling solutions, is the class of the ionic liquids. These chemicals, liquid at ambient temperatures (< 100 °C), consist completely of ions: usually an organic cation, such as imidazolium, and an inorganic anion such as a chloride, bromide, tetrafluoroborate, hexafluorophosphate, or hydrogen sulphate, although organic anions have been used as well. Several different types of ionic liquids have been found useful to combat metal corrosion (see e.g. Arenas and Reddy 2003, Likhanova et al. 2010).

Besides their anticorrosive properties, ionic liquids also show a strong biocidal effect against bacteria and biofilms with a very wide range of biocidal activity (Carson et al. 2009; Busetti et al. 2010; Nancharaiah et al., 2013). Many ionic liquids share structural similarities with cationic surfactants which kill cells by disrupting cell membranes (Simoes et al., 2005). The antimicrobial and biocidal activity was related to the alkyl group chain length of ionic liquids (Pernak et al, 2003). Our own research has confirmed this chain length effect for the marine invertebrate Artemia salina.

Currently, we are testing the effect of ionic liquid mixed in epoxy paint on the corrosion rate and the fouling rate of grade A steel.

Three-day old biofilm produced by Pseudomonas fluorescens SBW25 on an air-liquid interface. Polycarbonate strips containing ionic liquids shown a zone free of biofilms.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Elena Moshynets


Microbiologically influenced corrosion in ballast tanks of merchant ships controlled through a UV ballast water management system

Recent studies suggest that it is a misconception to represent MIC as a separate corrosion form besides general corrosion, galvanic corrosion, crevice corrosion, pitting, intergranular corrosion, erosion corrosion and stress corrosion. MIC should be considered as an extra parameter, a biological element modulating the abiotic electrochemical corrosion process.

Very soon (8/9/2017) the IMO ballast water management convention will come into force. One of the accepted techniques to sterilize the water is the use of UV-light. The objective of this research program is to unveil if the UV light used in the context of the BWMC will also kill the different bacteria such as SRB's, IRB's and slime forming bacteria responsible for the MIC?

And maybe? PACOBUCH, a project summited to BRAIN-be (BELSPO) 12 September 2016

Partners: Antwerp Maritime Academy - Flanders Heritage Agency - Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences

The Belgian territorial part of the North Sea is the last resting place of a large collection of mostly unexplored ship wrecks, many of which date from the First and Second World Wars. Of course, locating the wrecks is only a first step. If nothing is done, the wrecks will slowly disappear due to corrosion. We aim to investigate the progression of corrosion in such wrecks (using potentiometry as well als in depth analysis of steel samples from different ages), as well as the interaction with the biota on the sea bottom and in the water column, growing up and against the wrecks.

Moreover, we wish to scientifically explore several available technologies (sacrificial anodes, impressed currents, burial, ...) to stop the corrosion under water, both in lab tests, and finally, on different test wreck sites. As such, we wish to deliver a set of best practices of how to deal sustainably with these steel shipwrecks as a responsible authority. The solution of this key aspect or even the beginning of a solution for this problem could also bring Belgium to the forefront of research in conservation of underwater cultural heritage.

Ample time will be devoted to work on informing the general public on the situation of the ship wrecks, the efforts to conserve them, and the context of the ships' demise. Investing in research and conservation of these shipwrecks therefore not only contributes to commemorate both World Wars, but also the hundreds of young men fallen in the line of duty.