Nontoxic Paint Additive that Prevents Marine Surface Contamination

Technology #11779

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William R. Kem
Ferenc Soti
Dan Rittschoff Ph.D.
Managed By
April Kilburn
Assistant Director 352-392-8929
Patent Protection
US Patent 7,307,171


The University of Florida is seeking a company interested in commercializing a novel paint additive that reduces the contamination of aquatic surfaces from barnacles and a variety of other marine organisms. Bacteria, algae and sedentary invertebrates such as barnacles, sponges, and mollusks become encrusted on the hulls of ships, causing turbulence, slowing their passage, increasing fuel requirements, and deteriorating painted surfaces, leading to corrosion. Until now, efforts to inhibit the settlement of these organisms on the undersides of ships have focused primarily on using organotin paint additives that cause serious pollution of harbors and adjacent waters where boats and ships are docked or anchored. The pollution caused by these organotin-based additives resulted in their being banned beginning in 2003, leaving a strong market demand for new, safer additives to replace them. Researchers at the University of Florida have met this challenge head-on by developing an antifouling additive that is nontoxic to the surrounding marine life and that can work to deter attachment rather than kill organisms.


Nontoxic paint additive to inhibit the settlement of organisms on ship hulls and underwater structures


  • Nontoxic to surrounding marine life, providing an environmentally friendly solution that conforms to the latest phase of government mandates regulating marine paint additives

  • Alkaloid combination can be tweaked to act either as a pesticide that is selectively toxic to crustaceans including barnacle larvae, or as a nontoxic repellant, allowing for versatility in product applications

  • Alkaloid compounds that form basis of invention are relatively inexpensive, promising cost-effective production and large profit margins


Until they were banned last year, organotin-based antifouling agents were commonly used to protect marine surfaces. However, these substances tended to pollute harbors and coastal marine waters where ships dock by sterilizing and/or killing off a wide variety of non-targeted, free-living organisms. University of Florida researchers have developed an additive based on anabaseine and pyridyl alkaloids and related compounds, some of which are naturally occurring in living organisms such as tobacco plants and carnivorous flatworms of the phylum Nemertina. The additive can function as a settlement inhibitor rather than a broad-spectrum biocide. The result is a painted marine surface that can inhibit the attachment of barnacle larvae.