European prize for antifouling film

On 20 June, the European Patent Office (EPO) announced the Dutch materials scientist Rik Breur as the winner of the European Inventor Award 2019 in the category small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Rik Breur developed a non-toxic film as a defence against biofouling on ship hulls and solid structures in the sea. Its technology prevents the growth of marine organisms such as algae, barnacles and mussel shells. These marine organisms can cause damage to platforms and give resistance, which leads to higher fuel consumption of ships. His environmentally friendly invention prevents biofouling without the use of harmful and seawater polluting chemicals.

In the Wiener Stadthalle, some 600 guests from the worlds of intellectual property, politics, science, academics and businessmen attended the announcement of the annual European Inventor Awards. The European Patent Office honours inventors from Europe and around the world with an award for their exceptional innovations, which have made a particular contribution to social development, technical progress and economic growth. The finalists and winners in the five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO Countries, Lifetime Achievement) were chosen by an independent international jury of hundreds of individual and teams of inventors.

Every year, 50,000 tons of harmful chemicals enter the sea through the use of toxic antifouling dyes. Scientist and inventor Rik Breur saw the negative effects of biofouling on the environment and was determined to find a green solution.

Rik Breur started his career in 1996 at TNO. After his PhD at TU Delft in 2001, the materials scientist founded his own company Material Innovation Centre (Micanti) in 2002, to initiate innovations in the field of corrosion and biofouling. The patented material consists of nylon fibers, a water-based two-component adhesive and a self-adhesive polyester foil and is supplied in rolls. The self-adhesive carpet, which is on the market as Finsulate Antifouling, is applied to the hull of the ship, something that any shipyard or related company can do. Due to the perpendicular needles, it also does not matter in which direction the carpet is applied. The fibers are so densely packed that nothing can get in between. The applied cladding does not slow down the ship thanks to meticulous hydrodynamics and can save up to 40 percent on fuel costs.

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