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Hempel Celebrates A Century of Pioneering Leadership

By Kerry Pianoforte, Editor | July 16, 2014

Hempel was founded in Denmark in 1915 by Jørgen Christian Hempel. Driven by innovation and the vision of helping to protect man-made structures from corrosion and fouling, the company has developed and grown into a world-leading coatings supplier working in the decorative, protective, marine, container and yacht markets. In 1917, Hempel introduced the world’s first antifouling coating for ships’ hulls based on modern science and technology. Today, Hempel is among the world leaders within antifouling and fouling release technology, and retains a close bond with the scientific community.

Broad range of products
“Hempel’s coatings cover a wide range of applications, from marine, oil and gas and power generation to infrastructure and light industry in almost every country in the world,” said Christian Ottosen, group marine marketing director.
In the marine market, Hempel markets coatings to protect cargo holds and tanks, ballast tanks, topsides and superstructures as well as fouling control coatings for ships’ hulls. The company also supplies coatings for new containers.
In the protective market Hempel supplies advanced protective coatings that add attractive and long-lasting protection to industrial structures. Hempel also offers coatings for the decorative market with a full range of solutions for both private homes and large building projects.

Hempel is also a world leader in yacht coatings and boat care products with a full range of products for pleasure and racing boats, from small motor boats to large racing yachts.

First silicone patent for underwater hull coating
“Hempel filed its first silicone patent in 1972 and the company’s first commercial silicone-based coating, HEMPASIL, was introduced in 1999, Ottosen said

This pioneering product created a smooth, non-stick surface on the hull, preventing marine organisms from attaching to it. The result was less drag in the water, lower fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.
Over the years, Hempel’s research and development lab continued to improve this technology by optimizing its long-term stability and mechanical properties, leading to HEMPASIL X3, Hempel’s flagship fouling release product with a fuel saving guarantee.

New challenges in a changing world
“Three pivotal developments in the first decade of the 21st century were instrumental in the latest advance in fouling control technology,” said Ottosen. “ The first was the complete banning of TBT-based biocide on all vessels in 2008. The second was the financial crisis and the third the steady rise in bunkering costs.”

Low demand due to the financial crisis and an over-capacity in the market left many shipping lines with a choice of lower rates or taking their vessels out of service. Many chose to adopt slow steaming. Others were forced into extended idle periods, in both cases making their vessels more vulnerable to fouling.

“With continuously rising bunkering costs, the time had come for the next major fouling control technology shift, and Hempel grabbed the chance to take the lead,” Ottosen stated.

Vision and science, hand-in-hand
Hempel is committed to constant improvement of its performance with regard to energy efficiency and environmental impact. The development of ActiGuard technology arose out of a wish to
pursue an entirely new concept that would set the bar way above current standards. Fouling control was no longer enough. The goal now was a Fouling Defence solution that effectively
protects against fouling throughout the service interval. Hempel’s new patented ActiGuard technology introduces a new and unique way of producing an underwater hull coating containing a silicone-hydrogel that not only enables controlled biocide release, but also has the necessary long-term stability and mechanical properties. Hempel’s latest hull coating product, HEMPAGUARD, is the first to be based on this patented technology, offering substantial economic and environmental advantages.

Greater energy efficiency and flexibility
The surface of a HEMPAGUARD coating has the same smoothness as conventional biocide-free silicone-based fouling release coatings, thus contributing to minimum drag, fuel savings of six per cent on average, and correspondingly lower CO2 emission. Recognizing that any biocide by its very nature impacts the marine environment, Hempel has designed HEMPAGUARD to release 95 per cent less biocide than a standard SPC antifouling
over an entire docking interval. With an average decay of only four per cent against a standard decay of 15 per cent in antifouling coatings, the biocide is outstandingly effective with substantially less environmental impact.
Extensive tests have shown that the effect is always the same, regardless of the trading pattern of the vessel and, in particular, when sailing at speeds as low as 8 knots, or even during idling
time in aggressive waters. Static testing in aggressive waters over four years has also led Hempel to guarantee idling periods of up to 120 days.

Looking to the future
“We are committed to remaining focused on our goals, adaptable in a fast-changing world and quick to implement new ideas. We will strive to increase our understanding of our markets and customers, and offer innovative solutions that add value to their business," Ottosen concluded.