Star Lysefjord in dry dock
/ June 11 2024

Testing the world’s “strongest material” as hull coating

This May, we applied a graphene-based coating to the hull and propeller of our Star Lysefjord, a potentially revolutionary product.

Biological fouling—the accumulation of microorganisms, plants, algae, and small animals like barnacles on the hull—increases resistance and slows down our vessels by between three and seven per cent during the five years between each drydocking. This leads to increased energy consumption and, thus, CO2 emissions to keep up to speed.

Hull coatings usually rely on biocides, which are gradually released to keep the surface clean. There is growing concern about the effect of biocide releases on the ocean, and many types are already banned.

15 per cent less drag

Last week, our Star Lysefjord emerged from drydock after installing three measures to increase the vessel’s energy efficiency and make it more climate-friendly. The most fascinating of these measures is coating the hull and propeller with a graphene-based coating.

Unlike traditional hull coatings, the graphene coating we have chosen is free of biocides and silicone oils. It does not release anything into the ocean, making it a more environmentally friendly choice. Moreover, it creates an ultra-low friction surface, preventing the attachment of biofouling and reducing energy consumption from day one.

The supplier, GIT Coatings, tested the product at the University of Strathclyde, and it was proven to have up to 15% less drag than soft foul-release coatings.

Engineers and seafarers by the propeller after applying graphene based coating on Star Lysefjord
Our team, Principal Engineer Henning Rebnord, Project Engineer & Analyst Marte Waage Haga, J3/Mate John Felix O. Merka and AB Felix H. Fabro inspecting the propeller and boss cap fin after it was covered with the graphene based coating

Double life-time

Microscopically, graphene is the strongest material ever measured. It has exceptionally high tensile strength, electrical conductivity, and transparency and is the thinnest two-dimensional material in the world.

With traditional coating, we have to sandblast and apply a new coating to the vessel every five years. Due to the strength of this new solution, we aim to do it every ten years.

Star Lysefjord is our first vessel equipped with this innovative graphene-based coating. This advancement promises more efficient sailing, less fouling, and a significant reduction in energy consumption. We are truly excited about this game-changing technology!

Propeller boss cap fins

In addition to the new coating, we have installed two other techs: propeller boss Ccap fins and ultrasonic hull protection.

The first is a well-known tech that reduces and almost eliminates the vortex that often is developed at the tip of the propeller’s boss cap. That means more efficiency and less energy consumption. We have the boss Ccap fins on our entire K-class and now on two L-class vessels. The boss Ccap fins of Star Lysefjord even has a thin layer of graphene-based coating.

Engineers and seafarers by the propeller after applying graphene based coating on Star Lysefjord
Inspecting the bos cap fin

Ultrasonic protection – with a twist

The other tech is ultrasonic hull protection against fouling. It has been tried and tested on niche areas such as coolers and seachests, and we have experience with installations on propellers.

This time, we expanded on this and installed a test patch with ultrasonic protection on the hull plating. Placing the transducer units inside the harsh environment of ballast tanks is a new challenge, and the actual working radius of the units is also uncharted territory for hull protection.

Our test patch should give us some answers, and we are eager to see the effect of this.