LZH is researching automated underwater cleaning of ship hulls with laser

Laser Biofouling Schiffsrumpf
21 July 2023

Laser against biofouling: In the project FoulLas, the LZH and partners developed a laser process to clean ship hulls underwater. The follow-up project FoulLas² now focuses on the automation of the process and bringing it to the ship.

For this purpose, a laser setup is being developed that will be integrated into a so-called magnetic crawler. The crawler will then automatically irradiate the fouling of the ship hulls with the laser underwater. The project team will test and optimize the process and its effects on fouling samples of algae, barnacles, and other marine organisms in testing areas on Helgoland. Finally, the process will be demonstrated on a real ship.

In addition to the FoulLas partners LZH, Laserline GmbH, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials Research IFAM, OFTEC Handelsgesellschaft für Oberflächentechnik mbH was brought on board to provide the magnetic crawler. Magnetic crawlers are normally used for stripping paint from ship hulls in dry docks. For underwater use, crawlers and lasers are being further developed.

The project FoulLas² ("Automated fouling removal from ship hulls using laser radiation underwater") started in July 2023 and is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) under the funding code 03SX597D by the project coordinator Jülich.

More information about the project FoulLas is available here.