Nanomaterials are finding applications in marine antifouling. The inherently small size of nanoparticles means they remain in the lattice of the antifoul coating. Although they do not readily leach out, they slowly release ions to provide long term antifouling performance.
The long used tributyl tin antifouling compounds are now widely banned and replacements are required. The longevity of organic biocides and copper oxide is not up to the required level but nanoparticles are offering a new alternative. Nanosized copper oxide or doped zinc oxides, such as Nanotek particles from Nanophase, are able to permanently remain in marine coating formulations and have been shown to increase the lifetime of the antimicrobial activity, with a corresponding increase of time between cleaning and re-application cycles.