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Setting Sail with Graphene-Based Marine Coatings

Talcoat™ graphene additive being mixed on-site into commercial 2-part epoxy coating system. Image Credit: Talga Resources 

Early results indicate positive forecasts for a graphene-based coating for commercial ship hulls. 

A Western-Australian advanced battery anode materials and graphene additives provider has announced the first milestone in testing a graphene-based coating for the hull of commercial ships¹. 

Talga Group LTD. has revealed that an inspection of the first ship coated with a graphene-based alternative to traditional ship hull coatings, Robin 1, which set sail in 2019, has weathered harsh sea conditions and the extreme demands of the commercial shipping industry remarkably well.

After a 15 month inspection, the team noted that a section of the ship not coated with their graphene-based creation  —  known as Talcoat  —  and instead treated with current commercial alternatives displayed signs of corrosion that were absent elsewhere on the ship’s hull. 

The sea test demonstrates the robustness of the graphene-based primer that could replace current hull coatings, some of which contain harmful materials and chemicals. 

We are very pleased to see this large scale demonstration of Talga’s graphene successfully working in the tough conditions of commercial shipping.

Mark Thompson, Managing Director, Talga Resources 

Talga Resources also coated a second ship with Talcoat but is still waiting for the results of that sea-test. The delay in obtaining this second set of results has arisen from travel restrictions and the fact that the ship changed hands after the sea-test commenced.

Both ships are still in active service, so the testing of Talcoat in sea-conditions will continue and the team expects that the positive results will continue to come in. 

Graphene on the High Seas

Graphene makes an excellent addition to marine coatings because of its incredible mechanical properties arising from the fact that it is a single layer of carbon atoms in a regular repeating pattern. This gives it excellent strength whilst also ensuring it is highly flexible and lightweight.

There’s a reason that graphene is considered a ‘wonder material’ by researchers in diverse fields of science and engineering. In terms of marine applications, when placed in a hull coating, graphene can provide a high degree of corrosion resistance thanks to the fact that it is chemically inert.

This isn’t just beneficial to shipping companies in reducing wear and tear to vessels, however. By preventing paint from flaking away from hulls it can also help protect marine ecosystems from exposure to potentially toxic ingredients. 

The test conducted by Talga was no ‘ship in a bottle’ experiment, Robin 1 is a 33,000 tonne cargo ship built in 2009 and registered in Liberia. The ship is active in some of the world’s most busy and demanding shipping routes.

The application of the graphene-based coating to the hull of the ship represents the largest ever application of graphene  —  a record it could hold for some time  —  with Robin 1 measuring with a length of 225 meters and a width of 31 meters.

You can monitor Robin 1’s ongoing journey on Fleetmon², thus tracking the progress of this exciting and novel nautical graphene experiment.

The Future of Graphene-based Coatings

The positive results yielded by Talcoat’s sea testing have convinced Talga to further invest in graphene-based coatings research. 

The company will now begin development on anti-foul coatings for marine applications, coatings for packing that provide effective water barriers, and anti-bacterial coatings that can be applied to both plastics and metals. Additionally, the team’s research department will also continue to develop anti-corrosion coatings similar to Talcoat. 

One exciting element of the company’s research thus far that shouldn’t be underestimated is the fact that its graphene-based coatings can actually be produced as a by-product of its other manufacturing projects. This cuts down on raw material consumption and thus  —  in addition to the fact graphene is completely non-toxic  —  could represent an important development in terms of environmentally friendly coatings. 

As we can now produce our graphene as a by-product of our battery anode manufacturing process, we are demonstrating a global leading low-cost and scalable graphene additive supply for large-volume industrial products.

Mark Thompson, Managing Director, Talga Resources

References

1.‘Talga’s Graphene Ship Coating Reaches Key Milestone in Sea Trials,’ Talga Press release, [https://www.talgagroup.com/irm/PDF/6445542e-2366-4cd7-a1e4-f7e8cddf83f2/TrialMilestoneforGrapheneShipCoating]

2. FleetMon: Tracking the Seven Seas [https://www.fleetmon.com/vessels/robin-1_9399789_2090085/?language=en]

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Robert Lea

Written by

Robert Lea

Robert is a Freelance Science Journalist with a STEM BSc. He specializes in Physics, Space, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Quantum Physics, and SciComm. Robert is an ABSW member, and aWCSJ 2019 and IOP Fellow.

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