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Enviromentally friendly coatings for ship building and ships in operation

EcoDock focuses on the optimisation of marine coating activities during the entire ship’s lifecycle and considers economy, technical performance, environmental impact and health and safety issues.

Tags: Water


The EcoDock starting point is the fact that maintaining costs for ships are increasing as a result of increasing legislation and regulation. The average cost for applying paint to a new ship can be less than $1.50/sq.m. but up to $50/sq.m. to repair it during the vessel’s life. During the past five years, marine coating processes have changed due to advanced material developments, changed production systems and international regulations. The application of concurrent engineering and production approaches reduces the timeframes for marine coating processes. Marine coating is not just a complex technology area due to the large variety of production parameters but also because different industrial parties are involved with competing objectives. Ship-owner, shipyard, marine paint supplier, classification society and public authorities have different intentions during the lifecycle of a ship. Apart the different objectives, the technical background of the parties involved in many cases is diverse and therefore the introduction and acceptance of new technologies and concepts can be slow. EcoDock intends to stimulate the communication and provide common baseline information to introduce new coating technologies.


The overall objectives of EcoDock are in this context:

  • to improve the performance of marine coatings during the lifetime of a ship
  • to reduce environmental impact of marine coatings during the ship’s lifecycle
  • to provide independent assessment of marine coating systems
  • to establish a European communication platform in order to stimulate the information exchange of the parties involved
  • to speed up the application of advanced environmentally friendly materials and production processes in the building of new ships, repair and operation.

The technological developments in the work programme will focus on paint systems that are most relevant according to the economy, technical performance, environmental impact, and health and safety issues. Although the relevance depends on the vessel type, the main areas of interest will be:

  • corrosion protection in ballast tanks and cargo holds
  • antifouling at underwater areas
  • visual impressions of the superstructure.
Performance test of marine antifouling paint systems
Performance test of marine antifouling paint systems

Description of work

The project work plan contains seven interrelated work packages.

WP1: Development of advanced paint systems

In this work package various characteristics of advanced marine paint systems are investigated. It includes research on new polymer binders, anticorrosion effects of paint pigments, film formation and solvent entrapment, and properties of paints based on nano-composites.

WP2: Application technologies for advanced paint systems

The introduction of new paint systems, like high volume solid or waterborne systems, requires modifications of the production processes. The objectives of this work package are benchmarking coating systems and the specification and evaluation of surface preparation and paint application technologies for advanced paint systems in order to achieve best product performance in different production environments. New building state, onboard maintenance and repair work will be considered.

WP3: Performance assessment of advanced paint systems

This work package develops and establishes standardised test methods and criteria for quality assessment of marine paints. The work focuses on anticorrosion testing in ballast tanks and cargo holds, and antifouling properties of the ship’s hull.

WP 4: Assessment of health and safety conditions for marine paints

Almost all coating materials in the shipyards contain hazardous components. WP4 analyses the effects and improvements of advanced coating materials and application technologies on the working conditions. The WP defines and develops a respective measurement methodology, performs measurements during the production process and then defines requirements to improve operational safety.

WP 5: Assessment of environmental influence of advanced paint systems

This work package provides information on the short-term environmental impact of shipyard processes regarding distribution of antifouling biocides in the environment. These examinations will be complemented by the development of a method for the determination of biocide leach rates from antifouling paints.

WP 6: Specification of computer-supported coating management systems for a ship’s lifecycle

Coating activities and the coating products have come under increasing scrutiny over recent years for ship-owners and shipyards. However, most of the related activities are paper-based and only partly supported by computer systems. The objective of this work package is the development of a modular software tool supporting coating activities during the ship’s lifecycle.

WP 7 European Coating Management Platform

This work package disseminates the research result and stimulates the information exchange between parties involved in the marine coating process.


The main results of the project will be:

  • Comprehensive background information on paint characteristics
  • Concept for robotic spraying
  • Concept for automatic paint removal in ship repair
  • Benchmark of surface preparation and application technologies
  • New test methods for antifouling and anticorrosion performance measurements including internal stress
  • Health and safety assessment in ship repair and initial ventilation measurements
  • Baseline data for the environmental impact at new building and repair yards from sediment sampling and analysis
  • Optimised method for release rate measurements
  • Mock-up of coating management software
  • Establishment of a European research and development communication platform.