FP7 IATS project is dedicated to the development of an innovative, compact, automated anti-fouling test system for professional examinations of marine coatings. This system will allow to significantly save time for test of coatings, reduce the price of the equipment and make the process fully automated. The proposed system will provide the possibility to check different rates of fouling on various patterns. The tests will be carried on 24-hour basis without supervision. All collected test data will be stored and in open access for system users.
The project is coordinated by Innowacja Polska (Poland). Company also participates in biological research actions as well as in design and development activities. The University of Gottingen (Germany) is responsible for the scientific characterization of the project and the selection and isolation of freshwater test species. Charles University (Czech Republic) participates is development of the biological aspects of the project, particular in numerous investigations of optimal growth conditions for test species. Photon Systems Instruments' (Czech Republic) main task is construction and assembly of photoluminescence chamber. Electronics Design Ltd (Estonia) carries out development of hardware components, integration, test and prototyping actions. EC Electronics (Poland) is constructor of mechanical, automatic components and fulfills functional verification. PPG Protective and Marine Coatings (Netherlands) is considered to bring to the consortium their experience and be a support from the point of view of potential end-user.
Fouling of ships, bridges and other sea and fresh water constructions represents a great problem. It rises vessels fuel consumption, decreases sailing speed and reduces structures life time resulting in a vast economic damage. Whereas the development of new anti-fouling coatings is very expensive and long-lasting process. Anti-fouling tests cost about 100 000 euro for 5 samples per one year. Test equipment requires large spaces, sea water resources, constant supervision. It takes about 5 years to launch new product, so it is hard for SME to rival on this market.The developing system consists of several test-pots with fresh water (distilled) where pre-selected water species and test-patterns are supposed to be placed; an image analyzer, consisting of fluorescence box and camera which measures appearance of fouling even if it is not visible to naked eye; a preprogrammed automated system which will provide movement of the sample to the image analyzer; computer with special software. Fouling test will be held in laboratory conditions using bioassays. Selected species are have to be very characteristic so to replicate the worst case for coatings that exist in natural conditions. Each test-pots is equipped with temperature sensors, magnetic stirrers, light sources, it allows to maintain constant conditions and destined for allocation of one pattern covered with coating and preselected set of species. The proposed system will save time for test up to 500% , moreover it is expected that test will not take longer then several weeks. It is very compact solution combines quite available price and innovation technologies is a perfect opportunity for enterprises to enter the market of anti-fouling coatings.