Organic Molecule Reduces the Need for Ships to Use Fossil Fuels

The Swedish Energy Agency has granted I-Tech AB a conditional loan of SEK 7,965,000 to work on Selektope, a product that prevents acorn barnacles from adhering to ship hulls. As a result, the maritime industry will have less need for fossil fuels.

"I-Tech's product may bring about a major paradigm shift," says Binella Vannesjö, business developer at the Energy Agency. "Hopefully it will permit industry to make the transition from high concentrations of heavy metals to a smart organic molecule that resolves an urgent environmental problem in addition to reducing the use of fossil fuels."

Selektope prevents acorn barnacles and other crustaceans from adhering to ship hulls. Such "fouling" can double the consumption of fossil fuels.

The unique characteristic of Selektope is that it modifies the behaviour of the barnacles instead of killing them. While 3-4 tonnes of copper oxide are currently needed to cover a ship, a couple of kilogrammes of Selektope would suffice.

I-Tech was formed in 2000 in the wake of a research project at Chalmers University of Technology. Research on substances to modify the behaviour of marine organisms led to Selektope, which subsequently gave birth to I-Tech. The company has demonstrated Selektope's potential to address the problem of the high energy consumption required to ensure reliable navigation, one of the maritime industry's most daunting challenges.

The company has a highly experienced team, including CEO Per Jansson, who has been instrumental in running research-based businesses for a quarter of a century. R&D Director Lena Lindblad, who initially developed the product, is an associate professor of zoology. I-Tech has patented the use of Selektope, as well as techniques for monitoring the release of the substance in salt water.

The overall objective of the Energy Agency loan is to verify and validate the I-Tech technology such that the method can be commercialized as quickly and smoothly as possible.

"We are very pleased that the agency has confirmed the energy-saving features of Selektope, not to mention the environmental benefits it offers" says Mr Jansson. "Now we are even more enthusiastic about our plans to launch the product on the international maritime market."

Cambrex Karlskoga AB, a specialist contract manufacturer of organic chemicals, will handle all production.