Lighting a Path to Biofouling Prevention: Investigating the Effect of Ultraviolet Light on Biofouling
Braga, Cierra Rose
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Ultraviolet light (UV) is considered an environmentally friendly antifouling method because it disrupts biological growth without the release of harmful toxins. The application of UV for the marine shipping industry is a relatively new concept, and there still remains many unknowns before it can be fully implemented. This research investigated several aspects of applying UVC for the control of fouling. A novel method of using embedded UV LEDs within a silicone coating for fouling control proved to be very effective at preventing fouling. The research also investigated the effect of using an external UVC light treatment to control fouling on ship hull coatings. Experiments were designed to investigate the effects of UV exposure time and distance on the recruitment of biofouling. A novel apparatus for field testing based off the Nautilus shell was designed and fabricated to determine the distance (25 mm to 275 mm) needed to be effective at preventing biofouling growth. An exposure of one minute per day resulted in differences in the biofouling community structure, with variations observed in biofilms, hydroids, calcareous tubeworms, encrusting bryozoan, arborescent bryozoan, and barnacles. The application of continuous UV to highly fouled surfaces caused a decrease in biofouling at all distances from the UV lamp, with specific organisms demonstrating greater UV tolerance than others. The results have demonstrated that UV is not only effective at preventing biofouling settlement but can also be utilized to eliminate already established macrofouling and biofilms.