How Ultrasonic Anti-Fouling Works

What is Marine Bio-Fouling?

Hull fouling is the result of accumulation of marine growth. Marine bio fouling results in reduced vessel speed, increased consumption and the increase in costs associated. Fouling can include algae, barnacles, muscels, weed, grass, coral worm, and more.

What is Anti-Fouling / Bottom Paint?

Typically Anti-foulant paints are used in an attempt to prevent or inhibit this marine biofouling growth and at the very least, slow it considerably. Coatings are typically combinations of toxic chemicals and heavy metals such as Copper (Cuprous oxide) and are designed to be self-polishing or ablative to “sluff off” small amounts allowing the growth to go with it. There are also ultra slick or smooth surfaces like silicone or epoxy coatings designed to be too slippery for bio-fouling to adhere to. In general most Anti-Foulant paints are not as effective as desired, especially if the vessel is stationary for any period of time.

What is Ultrasonic Anti-Fouling?

Ultrasonic anti-fouling technology works through the effect of acoustic sonication, more on that below. This process has a three stage function to keeping your hull and running gear cleaner for longer. Utilized initially to prevent new bio fouling from forming on your hull and protected surfaces. Secondly the ultrasonic energy has a cleaning effect to assist in clearing smaller particles. Thirdly the ultrasonic energy functions to disrupt the fouling organisms and algae’s ability to reproduce and grow further, more on how this works below. Note the use of ultrasonic anti-fouling is not going to reverse the growth pre-existing and it won’t “blow the barnacles” off the hull. It is primarily there to drastically increase the longevity of your coating and keep your protected surfaces and running gear as clean as possible, maintaining much longer periods between bottom cleaning / maintenance.

Applying Ultrasonic Antifouling

Ultrasonic sound waves are emitted through your hull and protected surfaces via strategically located HullSonic Transducers (Emitters) bonded to the inside of your vessel. These ultrasonic transducers are driven by signals sent from the HullSonic control module and will generate the acoustic sonication sound energy in the hull and surfaces to be protected, in turn providing the ultrasonic protection. 

Ultrasonic Acoustic Disintegration of algae and bacteria

Acoustic Sonication (Ultrasonication) Briefly Explained – The Science.

Above demonstrates the formation and collapse of these sound waves, happening in their millions/billions at the frequencies determined by the HullSonic algorithm based on automatic calibration values from your vessel and our proprietary frequency set.

Acoustic cavitation (Ultrasonication) at a microscopic level is produced by the creation and destruction of ultrasonic sound waves in the liquid within the immediate vicinity of the hull due to pressure variations.

Ultrasonic sound waves are those above audible to humans.

These sound waves propagate into the water around the hull resulting in alternating high and low pressure cycles occurring at 20,000 to 100,000 times per second (18kHz to 80kHz). During the low pressure cycle the sonic waves create small vacuum bubbles or voids that are then collapsed violently during the high pressure phase (cavitation). This produces a very high local pressure wave that is sufficient to prevent microscopic marine growth reproduction and lifecycle in the immediate vicinity.

Ultrasonic acoustic disintegration of algae and bacteria explained

The below diagram shows the effect of Ultrasonic Acoustic Energy on algae & bacteria. The Ultrasonic Cavitation causes disintegration of the cell wall of algae and bacteria reducing the same to inert particles, preventing continued growth. The energy used in Ultrasonic Anti-fouling is sufficient to produce this effect within the immediate vicinity of the hull.

Ultrasonic Acoustic Disintegration of algae and bacteria

Frequently Asked Questions

Will Hull Sonic work on any boat ?

HullSonic works on all hull materials with the exception of Ferro Cement and Wood.
* Foam or Balsa Cored Hulls require minor modification at the transducer site.

Will Hull Sonic cause Electrolysis

No, not at all. Hull Sonic transducers are galvanically isolated in our transformer technology, this means they are completely isolated from any other part of your boat. They also operate with AC (Alternating Current) which will not, in this case, produce any functional electrolysis reaction. The Hull Sonic is also 3rd party tested to comply with all relevant government bodies for electronics. Including FCC, C-tick / RCM & CE standards. 

Does my HullSonic need to be on all of the time?

Yes. Your Hull Sonic system will need to operate continuously for the best protection against marine fouling / growth. 
There is a built in sleep function should you desire to isolate the system for a 4 or 8 hours and have it automatically turn back on.

Will the HullSonic remove existing growth / fouling?

No. HullSonic is a deterrent and works to prevent new fouling from attaching / growing on your hull surface. For best results it is recommended that your hull be cleaned at the time of HullSonic installation.

Is the Hull Sonic system harmful to the environment?

No, Absolutely not. Hull Sonic produces ultrasonic energy that is absorbed through the hull surface and only effects the growth of micro-organisms in direct contact with the hull. It does not interfere with the marine fauna that is not in direct contact with the vessel's hull.

Can HullSonic work with my existing boat batteries?

Yes. The HullSonic system operates like any other electronic device on your vessel and integrates into your existing boat battery system.

HullSonic is designed to operate on 12VDC. 

How much power does the system really use?

The average power consumption of 1 x 50W HullSonic Transducer is ~3-4 Watts. 
The peak power consumption of 1 x 50W HullSonic Transducer is 50 Watts.

Meaning each transducer installed will run at it's peak 50W value for very short bursts and the average power consumption of the system is much lower at ~3-4 Watts per Transducer installed.

The HullSonic also drives it's energy very cleverly to never exceed 2 Transducers driving at any one time. Keeping the total power consumption peak on all units from the HS200 to the HS400 down to 100W Peak! This is done with some clever algorithms and advanced digital driver circuitry.

Will I still need to clean my hull after installation of my HullSonic?

Less Frequently. Your HullSonic Ultrasonic Anti-Fouling system works to drastically extend the time between hull maintenance and cleaning.

Will Hill Sonic Ultrasound cause damage to my boat?

No, the ultrasonic energy produced by the Hull Sonic is perfectly safe for your boats structure and will not cause damage or harm to your vessel.

Does HullSonic make any noise?

The HullSonic works by producing ultrasound (Ultrasonic sound waves) that cannot be sensed or heard by humans. This is sound frequency higher than we can hear. You may hear a very faint clicking sound when very close to a transducer. This click is the small amount of audible range emitted during a frequency change and can be used to confirm the transducer is functioning normally.

Will I need to clean my hull after installing Hull Sonic?

Yes. Hull Sonic works best as a deterrent of future growth, it will not remove existing barnacles or fouling. It is important that all barnacles and fouling is removed completely from all submerged surfaces to ensure best results.

Will I need shore power to use the Hull Sonic

No. The HullSonic system draws ~3W per transducer and can operate on existing battery systems connected to standard battery maintainers / chargers from things like wind / solar. 

It is recommended however that some form of charging sufficient to handle the ~3W per transducer plus the charge time is implemented to ensure the Hull Sonic does not enter low battery mode. A shore power connected battery charger is best. 

Does the HullSonic work with Solar Power?

Yes. The HullSonic can run perfectly from a battery system that is sustained by solar power. The solar system should be able to produce enough energy to maintain charge on the batteries, even during periods when the solar panels are not charging the batteries. We can help determine a suitable panel / battery configuration.

Will Hull Sonic drain my battery and leave me stranded?

No. HullSonic monitors it's battery voltage continuously and will adjust it's output depending on available power. When the battery level dips to ~50% the HullSonic automatically will raise an alarm and go into a very low power "no output" mode to protect your batteries.
* During Low Battery mode there is no Ultrasonic Anti-Fouling protection.

Is Ultrasonic harmful to the environment?

No, HullSonic Ultrasonic energy is emitted in pulses and absorbed into the surfaces being protected. It will not interfere with anything that is not in direct contact with the surfaces being protected. 

Will I still need Anti-Foul / Bottom Paint?

It is recommended, Yes. However this depends on your circumstances.
HullSonic functions the same way whether you have bottom paint or not – to extend the time required between cleaning by 2 to 3 times. Hull Sonic systems used in conjunction with bottom paint will require far less maintenance and cleaning than if no bottom paint is used. Boats using HullSonic without bottom paint will still benefit with extended periods between cleaning compared to having no-protection, however removal of bio-fouling will be more difficult. Having a bottom paint coating, even a non-toxic paint, will limit staining, fiberglass blistering, and aid in the easy removal of any accumulation.

Does the HullSonic installation require drilling holes in my boat?

No. The HullSonic installation does not require any through-holes to be installed. Transducers are installed on the in-board side of the hull without holes.
* Boats with composite / foam cored hulls may require the core layer removed in the immediate vicinity of the Transducer location depending on the installation method.

Question not answered? Ask US HERE.