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Biotechnol Adv. 2013 Dec;31(8):1738-53. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2013.09.002. Epub 2013 Sep 16.

Current and emerging environmentally-friendly systems for fouling control in the marine environment.

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Biomedical Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Howard Street, Sheffield, S1 1WB, UK.


Following the ban in 2003 on the use of tributyl-tin compounds in antifouling coatings, the search for an environmentally-friendly alternative has accelerated. Biocidal TBT alternatives, such as diuron and Irgarol 1051®, have proved to be environmentally damaging to marine organisms. The issue regarding the use of biocides is that concerning the half-life of the compounds which allow a perpetuation of the toxic effects into the marine food chain, and initiate changes in the early stages of the organisms' life-cycle. In addition, the break-down of biocides can result in metabolites with greater toxicity and longevity than the parent compound. Functionalized coatings have been designed to repel the settlement and permanent attachment of fouling organisms via modification of either or both surface topography and surface chemistry, or by interfering with the natural mechanisms via which fouling organisms settle upon and adhere to surfaces. A large number of technologies are being developed towards producing new coatings that will be able to resist biofouling over a period of years and thus truly replace biocides as antifouling systems. In addition urgent research is directed towards the exploitation of mechanisms used by living organisms designed to repel the settlement of fouling organisms. These biomimetic strategies include the production of antifouling enzymes and novel surface topography that are incompatible with permanent attachment, for example, by mimicking the microstructure of shark skin. Other research seeks to exploit chemical signals and antimicrobial agents produced by diverse living organisms in the environment to prevent settlement and growth of fouling organisms on vulnerable surfaces. Novel polymer-based technologies may prevent fouling by means of unfavourable surface chemical and physical properties or by concentrating antifouling compounds around surfaces.


Biofilm; Biofouling; Coatings; Environmentally-friendly antifouling; Marine; Non-biocidal; Non-polluting technology; Steel

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