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International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation
65, No., 2011; Pages: 276 - 284

Fouling and stability of polymers and composites in marine environment

Thangavelu Muthukumar, Adithan Aravinthan, Karunamoorthy Lakshmi, Ramasamy Venkatesan, Loganathan Vedaprakash, Mukesh Doble

Department of Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, IIT Campus, Adayar, Chennai 600036, Tamil Nadu, India.


Effect of biofouling on various polymers and composites such as, Polyurethane (PU), Silicone rubber (SR), Polyester (PET), Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP), Carbon fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) and Syntactic foams (SF) deployed for a period of one year in marine waters at a depth of 1 m was studied. These materials find wide marine applications. SR with lowest surface energy was the least fouled. Maximum barnacle attachment was seen on hard surface (GFRP) and minimum on flexible surface (SR). Attachment of barnacles and polychaetes are positively correlated with surface energy. Fouling load is positively correlated with Surface energy and hardness. The surface energy, hardness and tensile strength reduced while surface roughness considerably increased during this period. Maximum gravimetric weight loss was seen in PET (7.49%) followed by PU (4.25%) and minimum in CFRP (0.45%). Maximum thermogravimetric weight loss was observed in PET (73.5% at 400oC) followed by PU (71.1%) and least in SR (2.4%). Fourier Transform infrared spectrum revealed that carbonyl/oxidation indices decreased for PET, GFRP, CFRP, and SR indicating biotic degradation. The same index increased for PU indicating abiotic oxidation.

Keywords:Surface energy Hardness, Biofouling, Total suspended solids, FTIR, AFM.


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