More than 5,500 vessels have been coated with AkzoNobel’s Intersleek range, which has helped ship owners save 10m tonnes of fuel and 32m tonnes of CO2. This equates to a collective saving of $3bn based on fuel costs at $300 per tonne.

“Intersleek has come a long way since we first discovered the foul release effect of silicone elastomers in the laboratory as part of our R&D process to create more sustainable technologies,” AkzoNobel’s managing director of marine coatings Oscar Wezenbeek said.

“Since then, it has had a significant impact on the shipping industry and made a tangible difference for many ship owners, as well as playing a leading role in our ongoing commitment to making shipping more sustainable.”

Accountable for around 3-4% of global emissions, the shipping industry has been criticised over its slow progress to unanimously agree on a binding climate deal, after it was left out of negotiations during the Paris Agreement talks. Since then, the industry’s overseeing body – The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – has approved a roadmap through to 2023 on the global adoption on an emissions reduction strategy.

Critics are still concerned about the delay to the plan, which is scheduled to come into force in 2018, but AkzoNobel has proved that individual shipping firms aren’t remaining idle in an effort to reduce emissions.

Sleek shipping

The latest milestones are based on savings achieved by using the Intersleek range in comparison to each vessel’s previous hull coating system. Several versions of the Intersleek coating exist, including the Intersleek 1000 range that offers fuel and carbon savings of up to 6%.

Intersleek 1000 was launched amidst criticism that AkzoNobel was using tin as a catalyst, which the firm says has been absent from products since 2002. The use of tin has been described as the “toxic time-bomb of the seas”.

However, the new range has seen AkzoNobel become the first coatings company to introduce anti-fouling coatings based on Lanion technology. The patented technology uses bio-renewable materials to deliver “enhanced vessel performance” that reduces drag while lowering emissions and fuel consumption.

Intersleek coatings are also eligible for AkzoNobel’s industry-first carbon credit scheme, aimed at financially rewarding operators for emitting less CO2. Ship owners are awarded one carbon credit per tonne of CO2 saved and are currently valued in excess of $500,000 based on the current market. AkzoNobel hopes the scheme will incentivise the industry into reducing fuel use and emissions.

To mark the 21st anniversary of the Intersleek range, the company is set launch a series of commercial incentives – set to be announced shortly – aimed at accelerating the uptake of the coatings, and drive down fuel use and emissions as a result.

AkzoNobel, along with WWF and Unilever, is part of the Sustainable Shipping Initiative coalition, which has previously launched a roadmap that encourages the shipping industry to promote sustainable practices.

Matt Mace

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