Antimicrobials help minimize human impact on the environment. Antimicrobials help communities reduce, reuse and recycle precious resources.
Organisms, primarily barnacles, macro algae and microbial slimes, accumulate on the surfaces of ships’ hulls and submerged permanent structures, such as piers and drilling platforms. This build-up, or “fouling”, can be reduced through the use of biocidal products known as “antifouling coatings.” If left uncontrolled, these organisms cost society greatly in terms of lost productivity, decreased efficiency, increased energy use, time losses, and environmental damage.
Antifouling coatings protect marine ships from corrosion and prevent organic material from growing on the outside of ships. By preventing this growth, antifouling coatings help minimize drag, which optimizes fuel consumption. With antifouling coatings, average fuel consumption of ships is 29 percent more efficient.
The use of biocides in this industry leads to other economic benefits. Costs are incurred when fouled hulls are cleaned and repainted, which includes complying with appropriate regulations to prevent environmental impacts from these activities. Marine ships that carry microorganisms not native to U.S. waters cause irreparable harm as the introduction of invasive species to U.S. waters can cause major environmental damage. These non-native species threaten the survival of roughly 42 percent of the native species on the threatened or endangered species lists. Antifouling coatings are an important tool in the struggle to protect our nation’s environmental integrity from invasive species.
Industrial Water Treatment
Microbiological treatment and management is crucial in all water systems, in particular for industrial water treatment. The primary problems arising in water systems are fouling and biofouling. Fouling generally is the presence of unwanted surface‐attached materials on submerged materials. Biofouling, in simplest terms, is the attachment of any organism to submerged surfaces or the presence of biological material in the suspended phase. Controlling fouling and biofouling are essential to the operation and integrity of the water systems.
The control of fouling and biofouling is also essential to reducing costs. Industrial water consumption is a significant factor in production costs, and has become an important consideration as part of ongoing efforts to conserve limited water resources. For example, throughout the chemical industry, more than 80 percent of water used for cooling and steam generation is recycled. Therefore, in‐plant water recycling and wastewater treatment systems are significant parts of the industrial processes for many facilities. As the use of recycled water increases, there is an even greater need for the use of biocides to control water quality and prevent corrosion, scale deposits and biofouling.