Technology with the environment in mind: Hempel’s new antifouling paint guarantees three years of protection without extensive use of biocides
by Niccolò Volpati
Sustainability or protection? Until now, buyers of antifouling paints have always found themselves facing this Hamletesque conundrum. Do they go for biocides – i.e. poisons – or choose a product that is not harmful, but also not particularly effective at protecting the hull from fouling by microorganisms. EU regulations have led to less harmful products, but this has also meant shipowners and captains struggling with a lack of effectiveness. Not any more, however: sustainability and performance are no longer mutually exclusive, all thanks to Hempaguard X7, created by Hempel, a Danish company with an Italian office in Genoa.
This antifouling coating, designed specifically for large yachts, offers three advantages: it improves the boat’s speed, reduces fuel consumption and, most importantly, increases the time between applications, guaranteeing hull protection for an impressive three years. This is a major boon for those used to doing it every 12 months, or even multiple times a year. Hempel has achieved this result through its own brand-new patented ActiGuard technology.
This defensive system against microorganisms is based on three ‘shields’. The first, silicone, has a mechanical role: it makes the surface slippery and therefore resistant to fouling. The second is Hydrogel, a gelatinous substance within the coating. It contains a special polymer that creates a sort of jelly-like patina when the hull comes into contact with water, and so is no longer exposed to the oxygen in the air. This produces a physical barrier to microorganisms, making the hull more ‘liquid’ than a hull without any protection. Then finally there is the biocide. This is the third line of defence, not the first, meaning only a small amount is needed. Hempaguard X7 complies with all EU regulations on antifouling coatings; indeed, it contains a much lower level of ‘poison’ than many other similar products currently on sale. The only requirement this antifouling paint has is that it must be applied by professionals. «X7 is a professional product», Daniele Mongiardini, sales manager at Hempel explains, «in the sense that it is not suitable for DIY».
Dr. Vienna Eleuteri, Initiator & Vice Chair of Water Revolution Foundation with Daniele Mongiardini, Hempel Yacht Sales Manager, at Hempel Yacht stand at the Monaco Yacht Show S.A.M.. where Hempel’s innovation – advanced fouling defence coating, Hempaguard X7 was presented. Water Revolution Foundation’s mission is to accelerate sustainability in the superyacht industry through collaboration and innovation, leading the way towards neutralising the industry’s ecological footprint and preserving the world’s oceans. This is a great match with Hempel’s purpose: to shape a brighter future with sustainable coating solutions.
It doesn’t matter whether they are employed by the shipyard carrying out the refurbishment work, or a specialist application and painting firm – the important thing is that it is done by expert professionals. «There are various timescales and thicknesses to comply with, and it requires advanced tools». Applying X7 to the hull is not the same as painting your child’s bedroom. However, Hempel provides a support service and training for employees who want to learn how to apply this product. The technology is sustainable and has major benefits, but it requires professionalism, and the same trend could also apply to shipyards providing refurbishment services.
X7 is a silicone-based antifouling coating based on new patented Hempel technology. It is ideal for yachts above 24 metres long, as it requires a high level of professionalism during application.
For the hull to be protected for three years, the paint must be applied perfectly. Hempel, therefore, recommends this product for yachts, but there is also an antifouling paint in the same range for owners of boats under 24 metres long.
«Hull protection that lasts three years is revolutionary», Daniele Mongiardini continues. «Sea temperatures are getting warmer and warmer; we saw temperatures in the Mediterranean last year that would have been unthinkable until recently. An increase of just 0.5 °C can lead to up to 30% more growth in microorganisms. It is therefore increasingly important that we have high-performance products that ensure excellent protection, not least because a clean hull is faster and most importantly less fuel-hungry, indirectly benefitting the environment. The only thing we ask in exchange is a professional application».
HEMPEL HAS ITS HEADQUARTERS IN COPENHAGEN; THE ITALIAN BRANCH IS LOCATED IN GENOA AND EMPLOYS 23 PEOPLE.
Daniele Mongiardini is not simply jumping on the sustainability bandwagon: he has the qualifications to prove it. He is a certifier for the Water Revolution Foundation, and therefore an ambassador for sustainability and environmental regeneration. Genoa’s mayor, Marco Bucci, also recently appointed him as environmental sustainability ambassador for the city. His green mission is therefore not solely a business opportunity: it stems from his values.
Opening image, photo credit Carlo Borlenghi
(Hempaguard X7, sustainability below the waterline – Barchemagazine.com – April 2022)