CTC has designed a groundbreaking solution, non-existent in the market, which is expected to increase marine resilience and the reliability of marine renewable energy converters and other steel structures.
Although development is in its early stages, several European companies in the sector have already shown their interest in the research.
This coating is one of the results of the European MAT4OEC project, an initiative led by CTC with the participation of seven other companies from five different countries.
The CTC Technology Centre has presented an innovative coating that will protect steel structures from marine corrosion and biological contamination (biofouling). It is a specific coating designed for the most frequently used material in this type of structures that will it protect from corrosion for more than 20 years and biofouling for more than a decade. Thanks to this advance, resistance to the marine environment will be improved, thus optimising the maintenance of structures at sea. In the specific case of marine energy converters, it will also contribute significantly to maximising the extraction potential of marine energy and minimising the costs associated with operation and maintenance.
This coating is one of the results of the MAT4OEC project (Advanced Materials for Ocean Energy Converter). A European initiative, led by CTC, with a budget of 1.1 million euros and in which seven companies from Spain, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and Belgium, including the Cantabrian DEGIMA have participated. Yesterday, Álvaro Rodríguez, coordinator of the Marine Renewable Energies area of the CTC Technological Centre, presented the progress of this project within the framework of the OCEANERA-NET Final Conference, held in Edinburgh on the 30th and 31st of January.
Although the full features of the new coating cannot yet be revealed due to confidentiality concerns, researchers say it will be a unique product, likely to have a disruptive effect within the sector. In fact, although it is still at an early stage, several European companies have already taken an interest in this coating, which will also be useful to other sectors outside marine renewable energies, such as the shipbuilding industry or Oil&Gas.
The solution is based on an improved coating developed in the ACORN project with shared industrial property between DEGIMA and the English Alphatek, in which the CTC also participated. This research developed a coating that combines the technology of Thermal Spray Aluminium (TSA) with various antifouling substances.
After defining all the specifications and requirements of the project, the next steps will be to develop the product, validate it in different locations and subsequently, industrialise it – scheduled for the end of 2019. Once the first samples are available, the test phase shall be carried out in three different locations: Shetland Tidal Array in Scotland, Smartbay in Ireland and the MCTS El Bocal Marine Laboratory in Santander.
MAT4OEC is research framed within the 2016 edition of OCEANERA-NET; an Era-Net initiative of the European Research Area Network funded by the European Commission, dedicated explicitly to boosting innovation in the ocean energy sector. The projects are financed through the Regional Development Agencies of each of the partners participating in the project. In the case of CTC and DEGIMA, the financing comes from Sociedad para el Desarrollo Regional de Cantabria, S.A. (Sodercan).
Three other results
In his intervention, Rodríguez, representative of the lead institution of the project, presented three additional results. First of all, another coating, in this case for composite materials, designed to minimise biofouling adherence and, therefore, prolong the useful life of elements such as marine buoys or the blades of marine turbines.
The research also addressed the development of a new low-toxicity antifouling product.
Lastly, a monitoring system for corrosion and biofouling was presented. This system would apply to any metallic offshore structure and measure the amount of biological contamination adhered and the degree of corrosion of its elements. This is an essential tool for planning the maintenance of offshore structures.
As demonstrated by Rodríguez’s intervention, MAT4OEC is a proposal aimed at responding to the real needs of any structure located in the marine environment. Combating a phenomenon such as corrosion, which affects most materials and structures, has an annual cost of between 50 and 80 million dollars.
CTC’s European Projection
The experience and knowledge accumulated by the CTC Technological Centre in the field of marine renewables allow it to coordinate this European research in which a total of 8 members representing five different countries participate. A major project that strengthens the capacity of the only technological centre in Cantabria to manage and develop these transnational research projects.
This initiative, together with other projects such as KrEaTive Habitat and GreenPatrol, also coordinated by CTC, consolidate the centre’s European projection. CTC is undergoing a process of continental expansion thanks to the expertise of its research staff. Its high specialisation in marine renewable energies allows it to be integrated, among others, into the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA): the European body that brings together the most prestigious research centres in the European Union.
Also noteworthy is the presence of its marine laboratory, MCTS El Bocal, in the primary network of European scientific infrastructures dedicated to marine renewable energy research, Marinet2. In the first edition, CTC was the second most sought-after installation in the continent.