The Acorn approach

The Challenge

Steel structures in a marine environment are subject to many forms of degradation. Corrosion and
biofouling are major problems. Cavitation damage is also relevant where local water velocity is high.
Structures requiring protection include ships, docks and buoys, oil & gas rigs and the emergent offshore renewable energy sector, including wind, wave and tidal generation systems. Collectively the cost of protecting these structures represents a huge economic load on critical areas of the European economy, with impacts ranging from transport operations, through to energy production.

The proposed solution

ACORN has taken advantage of the proven long-term corrosion resistance of thermally sprayed aluminium (TSA)  to develop a matrix coating with a proven life of 20+ years in the sea. Porous TSA was produced and into this porous TSA matrix, the ACORN research team introduced islands of environmentally friendly antifouling substances which are gradually exposed at the active surface of the coating as the TSA corrodes away at the rate of few μm per year. The ACORN coating represents an entirely new, non-paint, approach to the long term protection of offshore structures. In addition to this, the project has developed a  corrosion and cavitation-resistant coating with a 10+ year design life, suitable for tidal turbines.

The concept

This project has developed a new, patentable and long-lasting solution to the problem of marine biofouling, offering specific advantages for static offshore structures such as wind turbine towers and ocean energy generators. 

In addition to this, the project has also developed a corrosion and cavitation resistant coating suitable for tidal turbines.