Subsea Industries' (Belgium) innovative hull coating, Ecospeed, was recently subjected to stringent scientific tests in order to quantify improvements that Ecospeed offers reducing hull friction on sea going vessels. The results demonstrated up to 3.7% saving in fuel consumption, according to the company. Tests were carried out at the Flanders Hydraulics Institute in Borgerhout (Belgium) under the supervision of the Antwerp Maritime Academy and the University of Gent.
The Hydraulics Institute has large tanks and specialized equipment suitable for measuring hydraulic properties. Comparative tests were conducted using 3 identical metal plates, each 5 meters long. These were coated with 3 different systems - conventional smooth hull paint, an unconditioned Ecospeed coating and a conditioned Ecospeed coating. Each of these plates was run through the testing tank simulating the hull of a vessel moving through water. A series of 35 tests were carried out on each panel under identical conditions for each coating and at a range of different speeds.
The plate with the unconditioned Ecospeed showed an average decrease of frictional resistance of 7.7% compared with the plate coated with the conventional system. The result of the plate with the conditioned Ecospeed was even more significant with an average decrease of frictional resistance of 9.3%. After taking into consideration all factors that contribute to the overall hull resistance, the conclusion was reached that Ecospeed can reduce fuel consumption between 3.0% and 3.7%. According to the company, these are conservatively estimated figures and may increase once further tests are completed later this year. Unlike regular paint, Ecospeed is an extremely tough, durable and ice resistant composite used for final coating.