German Researchers Develop Laser Ship-Cleaning System

February 2023

The mussels, algae and other marine organism that accumulate on the hulls of sea vessels, also known as biofouling, are a major problem. Not only do they increase fuel consumption. They can also contaminate ecosystems and cause species displacement. Scientists from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH), The Laserline company and Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research IFAM have come up with a new remedy. Its secret – lasers.

The procedure sounds charmingly simple. Laser radiation contaminates the biofouling underwater, whereupon it dies and is washed away as the ship passes through water. The procedure has the advantage over mechanical methods of posing no risk of damage to ships’ hulls.

“We were able to achieve a clear, time-delayed cleaning effect,” LZH underwater technology expert Benjamin Emde said on the organization’s website. “With simulated currents, as would be added in real life with a moving ship, the cleaning effect is further enhanced.”

The project, known as “FoulLas,” was funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

© Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH)