Novel Approach to Marine Antifouling

Steinberg Doron, HUJI, Faculty of Dental Medicine, Institute of Dental Sciences

Compounds interfere with the formation of biofilms



Coatings, Polymers, Biomaterials, Cleantech, Water Technologies

Development Stage

Proof of concept



  • Simple heterocyclic compounds disrupt cell–cell communication (quorum sensing) and interfere with the formation of biofilms, such as those that cause fouling of ships’ hulls.
  • Antifouling products are used to control the unwanted growth and settlement of fouling organisms — such as microbes and higher forms of plant or animal species — on marine vessels, aquaculture equipment or other structures used in water.

Our Innovation

Novel compounds that disrupt cell–cell communication (quorum sensing) and interfere with the formation of biofilms can be used in coatings to prevent fouling for marine applications.

Photograph showing the results of applying the technology to a surface submerged in Haifa Bay for two months – left: treated surface, right: untreated


Key Features

  • Technology successfully incorporated into acrylic polymers
  • No antibacterial or antifungal effect, avoids development of resistant strains
  • Environmentally safe – non-leaching coating
  • Effective against both fungal and bacterial biofilms
  • Inhibit and reverse biofilm formation

Development Milestones

  • The technology has been tested for two months in the marina in Haifa Bay with the results shown in the photograph above.

The Opportunity

  • The increase in frictional drag caused by the development of fouling on hulls of ships can reduce speed in excess of 10%. A vessel with a fouled hull burns 40% more fuel which has an impact on fuel costs and additional greenhouse gas production (estimated to be 384 million tonnes per annum). The saving to the shipping industry through the use of antifouling coatings is estimated to be ~20 billion Euros per year. Fouled hulls are also implicated in the spread of ‘alien species’ around the world, potentially threatening the balance of sensitive ecosystems.

Contact for more information:

Matt Zarek
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