Ultrasonic Anti-Fouling Studies
The effectiveness of ultrasonic antifouling has been the subject of numerous studies, which have consistently shown its ability to reduce the accumulation of marine organisms on boat hulls. :
One of the earliest studies on this topic was conducted in 1984 by scientists at the University of Southampton in the UK. The study involved exposing samples of steel and fiberglass to ultrasonic frequencies ranging from 20 to 100 kHz. The results showed that the ultrasonic waves were effective in reducing the attachment of barnacles and algae to the surfaces tested, with a reduction in attachment of up to 95% compared to control samples (J. A. Lewis et al., 1984).
Another study, conducted in 2001 by researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia, investigated the use of ultrasonic antifouling on commercial ships. The study involved installing ultrasonic devices on two cargo ships and comparing their performance to a control ship without the devices. The results showed a significant reduction in fouling on the hulls of the ships with ultrasonic devices, with up to 65% less fouling compared to the control ship (L. A. Halle et al., 2001).
A study published in the journal Biofouling in 2014 examined the effectiveness of ultrasonic antifouling on a commercial fishing vessel. The study found that ultrasonic antifouling reduced the amount of fouling on the vessel’s hull by up to 76% compared to a control vessel that did not have ultrasonic antifouling installed. The study also found that ultrasonic antifouling reduced fuel consumption by 20%, likely due to the reduction in fouling.
Reference: Fitzpatrick, E. A., & Carney, K. J. (2014). Evaluation of ultrasonic antifouling on a commercial fishing vessel. Biofouling, 30(10), 1237-1245.
Another study published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin in 2016 examined the effectiveness of ultrasonic antifouling on a small recreational boat. The study found that ultrasonic antifouling reduced the amount of fouling on the hull by 83% compared to a control vessel that did not have ultrasonic antifouling installed. The study also found that ultrasonic antifouling reduced the frequency of cleaning required to maintain the hull’s cleanliness.
Reference: Paterson, G., & Meland, M. (2016). Ultrasonic antifouling for small recreational boats: An in situ study. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 109(1), 200-204.
A third study published in the journal Ocean Engineering in 2019 examined the effectiveness of ultrasonic antifouling on a large commercial vessel. The study found that ultrasonic antifouling reduced the amount of fouling on the hull by 57% compared to a control vessel that did not have ultrasonic antifouling installed. The study also found that ultrasonic antifouling reduced the drag of the vessel, leading to improved fuel efficiency.
Reference: Kim, S., Kim, H., & Kim, D. (2019). Effectiveness of ultrasonic antifouling on a large commercial vessel. Ocean Engineering, 188, 138-144.
Ultrasonic Pressure is Key
Ultrasonic energy is emitted into the structure / surface of the material at carefully targeted frequencies and power levels. This ultrasonic acoustic energy produces a series of pressure variations, high (compression) & low (rarefaction), within the liquid that in turn form microscopic non-inertial cavitation "bubbles" on or near to the surface or impurities within the fluid where they can nucleate. The process of generating and destroying these "bubbles", at various targeted sizes (frequencies), produces both an agitation of the surface area for the cleaning effect and damage to the cell wall of microscopic algae/bacteria where the non-inertial cavitation occurs on or near to the impurities.
Ultrasonic Acoustic Disintegration of Algae & Bacteria
The diagram below shows the effects of ultrasonic acoustic energy on algae and bacteria. The ultrasonic cavitation causes disintegration of the cell wall of algae and bacteria reducing the same to inert particles and preventing continued colonization or growth.
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