Biofouling Reduction on Optical Systems (BROS)

Duration: 01.02.1996 – 31.07.1998 (30 months)

Coordination: Glasgow University (United Kingdom)

Partners: Instituto Superior Técnico (Portugal), IFREMER (France), SIMRAD (UK), TNO Coatings (The Netherlands), University Marine Biological Station (UK).

Funding Entity: EU – Programme MAST

The objective of the BROS project was to develop strategies to reduce marine fouling on optical underwater instruments. One of the Tasks concerned a wide ranging research programme on optical coatings with the aim of resisting microfouling and biofilm formation. A parallel Task concerned an investigation of the potential for specialist glass materials. Given the complexity of the marine fouling problem it was unlikely that a single technique by itself will be completely successful for very long periods at all locations. Consequently other Tasks involved studies of chemical, mechanical and electrical strategies to assist the reduction of biofilm formation and/or its removal. Some of these methods may be limited in their application due to the need for minimal power consumption in some sensor systems. A further Task involved an extensive study of the nature and rate of biofilm formation on appropriate substrates over a wide range of environmental conditions. The environmental risk and broad economic factors associated with some candidate strategies were considered within a separate Task and, in the final Task, guidelines were developed for the selection of strategies for the protection of optical systems against marine fouling, for a range of missions. The project was very successful in increasing the understanding of the effects of biofouling on underwater optical sensors, in quantifying the variability in biofouling development and in developing and demonstrating the usefulness of a variety of techniques, which are capable of reducing such biofouling on optical surfaces. The guidance developed, as a deliverable of the BROS project, is a major advance for manufacturers and users of such optical devices.

Project Team

Associated Publications