There are a great number of challenges to be overcome in the development of wave energy converting devices, many of which are down to exposure to the marine environment. Wave energy converters are placed in sites known to experience rough seas: In the British Isles, areas such as the Shetland Islands, Outer Hebrides or west coast of Ireland. Therefore, devices must survive the destructive forces of Atlantic storms, as well as rust and corrosion of metals and degradation of rubber and plastics in the saline environment. Another factor that must be considered is the part that the biotic environment will play in the function of such devices. No surface can be exposed to the sea and not interact with the Organisms living there. In many cases, problems are caused when organisms in the sea settle and grow upon manmade structures in a process known as ‘biofouling’ (Stanczak, 2004).
Using information on the biology of biofouling organisms and drawing upon data showing how various industries worldwide are affected by and limit the impact of biofouling, this review shall:
- Explain biofouling and how it occurs.
- Provide an overview of the range of biofouling organisms and how they attach to various substrates.
- Explore factors that influence the development of biofouling including water velocity, pressure, temperature, depth, light and construction materials.
- Review the impacts of biofouling on industry.
- Detail commercially available antifouling technologies.
- Determine the extent to which a wave energy converter using an open loop seawater hydraulic system may suffer from biofouling.
- Outline measures that may be used to control or alleviate biofouling.