Environmental Quality Program: Benign Antifouling and Fouling Release Materials

The Environmental Quality Program invests in research to enable naval vessels to carry out their mission in full compliance with current and anticipated environmental regulations. Naval assets, large and small, spend months to years at sea exposed to considerable biofouling pressures. Fouled surfaces contribute to increased maintenance costs, create fuel and efficiency penalties due to drag, and can transport invasive species. Both hard and soft foulers compromise surfaces, and some species are becoming tolerant to copper-containing surface treatments. Alternatively, while state-of the-art, non-toxic materials exist, they may not provide sufficient durability or perform adequately for naval assets with activity profiles that differ from the commercial sector. Finally, materials and surface treatments having physical properties such as transparency and inertness towards surfaces less noble than stainless steels are desirable. Prior work in this program has led to the development of first generation, bi-functional, foul release/antifouling (FR/AF) coatings and the mechanics underlying such materials.

Research Concentration Areas

  • Surfaces exposed to seawater for extended periods require protection from biofouling to maintain functionality and performance metrics. Current qualified surface treatments are not applicable for surfaces with low nobility or requiring optical transparency
  • Research is needed to determine the fundamental interfacial physical, chemical and biological interactions that govern proliferation and removal of marine foulers attached to naval assets
  • The goal is to develop new, environmentally benign, durable surface treatments to impart both resistance to fouling and facilitate removal of biofoulers between maintenance intervals

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Determine the fundamental chemical and mechanical interactions that enable the adhesive tenacity of marine biofoulers
  • Exploit the chemical and mechanical vulnerabilities of marine biofoulers to design high performance FR/AF surfaces
  • Create durable, non-toxic materials and surface treatments that resist fouling
  • Develop objective measures of susceptibility, cleanability and durability of FR/AF surfaces to fouling
  • Quantify energy and performance penalties from fouling

Program Contact Information

Name: Kathryn Wahl

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 332

Email for Questions: kathryn.wahl@navy.mil

Name: Dr. Paul Armistead

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 332

Email for Questions: paul.armistead@navy.mil

How to Submit

Submit white papers, QUAD charts and full proposals for contracts to this email address: ONR Code 33 Research Submissions

Follow instructions within BAA for submission of grant proposals to grants.gov website.

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