Jeff Stollenwerk, Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Biofouling is the spontaneous colonization of submerged natural or artificial structures by a broad spectrum of aquatic organisms. Colonization adversely affects ships’ hydrodynamic performance, fuel consumption, and port infrastructure. Biofouling also hosts numerous organisms considered invasive on structures moved from one body of water to another. Most antifouling coatings are toxic and can accumulate in the environment. Therefore, new eco-friendly antifouling technologies are needed.
We propose to leverage our ability to functionalize enzymes to evaluate the combination of enzymes as antifouling coating additives. Because these enzymes have distinct modes of action, we anticipate that combinations may be synergistic. Such a biological coating would have the double advantage of being eco-friendly and more potent antifouling activity, advantageously replacing biocides.
Regulation is tightening against these coatings to increase environmental protection. Eco-friendly alternatives would significantly contribute to preserving Minnesota’s aquatic environments, which is essential for communities that depend on aquatic resources. Because some of these enzymes are commercially available at low cost, this work may also lead to new opportunities in both the economic and environmental aspects.