Tighter South Korean requirements for antifouling paints increase the need for more effective biocides

South Korea has decided to continuously introduce new and stricter regulations for the content of biocides in antifouling paints used on ships. The new rules are expected to favour biocides that are effective at lower concentrations, such as I-Tech's proprietary biocide Selektope, which provides effective protection against fouling at concentrations as low as 0.1%.

The new limits are part of the Korean REACH chemical regulation, which aims to protect public health and the environment from harmful chemicals. The regulation is based on several procedures and is being introduced gradually over several years. K-REACH includes requirements for the registration of used substances as well as rules for maximum authorised concentrations in different applications.

When it comes to biocides in antifouling products, the limit values for a number of biocides have already been clearly tightened and in the future limitations will also be tightened for biocides not yet affected by the new regulations.

The proposal for new limit values for biocides in antifouling paint is still under investigation, but the information provided by the Korean authorities so far indicates that the limit values for the maximum permitted concentration in a paint will be significantly reduced for all biocides. The biocides currently used in antifouling products require different levels of concentration depending on their effectiveness. I-Tech's proprietary biocide Selektope has shown to be effective against barnacle growth at concentrations as low as 0.1 per cent.

South Korea is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding nations and accounts for a significant share of the total annual production. During the first half of 2023, South Korean shipyards won 29 percent of all orders for new ships. Inconnection with the report for the second quarter of this year, I-Tech reported a total sales in South Korea of more than 32 million SEK, which was an increase of 147 percent compared to the corresponding quarter of 2022.

"Different biocides require different level of concentration in the paint to be effective, in some cases up to 45 per cent, while in our case we are dealing with very low concentrations in this context, which is of course a great advantage. However, great technical progress is required from the paint companies to succeed in producing products that meet the regulatory requirements without compromising in terms of performance. Given South Korea's significant shipbuilding industry and the country's great impact on the industry as a whole, the introduction of the regulation may affect the entire industry. We are following the development and continue to generate knowledge that can help to find optimal biocide combinations for different markets and different types of paint systems", says Philip Chaabane, CEO of I-Tech AB.

Selektope is used in antifouling products by several global paint manufacturers and has proven to be very effective in preventing barnacle growth. I-Tech AB recently announced that the hospital ship Global Mercy, whose hull was treated with Selektope, has remained completely free of barnacle growth despite spending 22 months essentially stationary in warm waters.