Researchers at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology have spent nine years developing new environmentally friendly and effective antifouling paints through a joint research program called Marine Paint. The focus has been on a substance called medetomidine, which has proven highly effective against barnacles, considered to be the most problematic fouling organism. Fouling is a major problem, leading to higher fuel consumption and increased air pollution. It can also cause the spread of alien species that do not belong in the local marine environment.
To tackle other types of fouling as well (such as algae, mussels, sea squirts and moss animals), the researchers have developed a concept for producing optimized combinations of different antifouling agents, or biocides. The idea behind these optimized blends is to combine many different biocides that are effective against different fouling organisms, and adjust the balance between them to eliminate all types of fouling.To produce the formulas for these optimized blends, the researchers have also developed a model system where they weigh the effect of different biocides on different fouling organisms against their expected environmental risk. The blends are all equally effective but offer different levels of expected environmental risk.