Shipshave’s solution for in-transit cleaning of hulls – ITCH – removes early-stage biofouling during transit, improving fuel efficiency and preventing the spread of invasive aquatic species.
Biofouling is also an indirect cause of greenhouse gas emissions as it increases hull friction. Severe fouling can reduce vessel speed by more than 10 per cent and increase fuel consumption by more than 40 per cent.
Shipshave ITCH is a semi-autonomous hull cleaning robot that is tethered to a winch on the foredeck of a vessel and submerged under water. There the robot harvests propulsion energy and cleans the hull in a defined pattern using soft brushes. A variety of cleaning heads can be mounted to remove either microfouling or macrofouling.
The Shipshave ITCH system is a plug-and-play system with a user-friendly interface and can be easily installed by the ship’s crew. Lightweight and compact, the system does not require engineering or modifications to the vessel.
The crew deploys the robot manually while the ship is sailing. An integrated video camera records the cleaning process and results. It also allows for hull inspection without divers and for compiling documentation on the condition of the hull for port authorities.
Shipshave ITCH removes early-stage biofouling, or microfouling, which is far easier to remove than macrofouling. Because the robot operates while the vessel is in transit, sailing schedules are not disrupted and ships do not have to sail to special ports for cleaning.
Removing biofouling reduces hull friction, which in turn reduces fuel consumption. The classification society DNV estimates that vessels can achieve fuel savings on average of 8 to 10 per cent in cold climates and more in warmer climates. The direct cost savings of fuel also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
A fuel consumption assessment performed by DNV in December 2021 showed that the use of Shipshave ITCH on a 200m bulk carrier resulted in fuel savings. Read the consumption assessment here.
As of 2021, the world merchant fleet had nearly 54 000 vessels of 1 000 gross tons and above. This number is expected to increase alongside maritime trade, which is projected to grow by 2.4 per cent in the period 2022-2026. Meanwhile, greater focus is being placed on environmental technologies in the push to make the shipping industry greener.
Shipshave ITCH is designed for use with professional vessels and came on the market in early 2021.