The International Centre of Island Technology (ICIT) and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) have joined forces in a year-long project to tackle biofouling in the marine renewable energy sector.
Under the auspices of the Biofouling in Renewable Energy Environments – Marine (BioFREE) project researchers will look at practical strategies to minimise the impacts of biofouling which can decrease the efficiency of energy generation and lead to corrosion of renewable technologies.
“The location of our campus in Orkney and our close working relationship with EMEC will provide maximum opportunities for our scientists to work closely together with developers to improve the knowledge regarding settlement of target fouling organisms,” said Joanne Porter, Associate Professor Marine Biology, ICIT.
Funded by NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, the BioFREE project will focus on developing a knowledge network of biofouling experts to work closely with marine energy test sites and technology developers to gather data, share experiences and formulate expertise on addressing biofouling impacts.
The BioFREE project also aims to identify and promote the positive impacts that the MRE industry can have on the marine environment by exploring mooring systems designed to enhance habitats for certain species.
Field research will be carried out at EMEC’s wave and tidal energy test sites in partnership with other test centres in North and South America, Asia, and Europe, where various arrays of panels populated with anti-fouling coatings will be deployed to develop a standard operating procedure for MRE biofouling monitoring.
The Marine Energy Research and Innovation Centre (MERIC) in Chile and The Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Centre in Oregon are among the research centres that are involved.
But the ICIT and EMEC are keen to build the BioFREE network of partners and are urging other interested parties to get in touch.
By Anne-Marie Causer