Full Steam Ahead in the Gulf

Sonihull, the world’s leading ultrasonic antifouling system, has opened a new office to serve the commercial shipping markets of the Middle East from a central location in Abu Dhabi

Despite the global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sonihull is keeping its commercial shipping expansion plans on track with the opening of a new office in the Arabian Gulf. The new office will be headed by Lee Eccles who has been appointed as Sonihull’s Regional Director for the Middle East & South East Asia.

Eccles, who started his career in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, is a fifteen-year veteran of the safety equipment market.

For the last twelve years he has been the Regional Manager for Survival Systems International, a specialist OEM of lifeboat capsule systems for the offshore Oil & Gas sector.

Lee Eccles, Sonihull’s Regional Director for the Middle East & South East Asia.

“This is a great opportunity for me to help Sonihull expand into this region,” said Eccles. “Located in the heart of the Arabian Gulf, all of the oil majors and tanker operators are on our doorstep and they are keen to adopt new technologies than can dramatically reduce their operating costs whilst protecting the environment form poisonous biocides.”

“Lee’s appointment in the UAE is a great opportunity for us to build on our existing client base and to make in-roads with some of the world’s largest fleets, explained Darren Rowlands, CEO of Sonihull. “Market forces may be in flux at the moment, but we have implemented clear guidelines to maintain our Health & Safety obligations.”

“Our staff are doing all they can to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus,” reassured Rowlands. “Each project goes through rigorous pre-installation review to ensure that crews and installers do not come into contact with each other during installation. Fortunately, Sonihull ultrasonic antifouling systems can be fitted in a matter of hours as opposed to the days required for impressed current systems, so we can already reduce the main risk factors. The Sonihull system familiarisation and walk-through, often done in the close-quarters of an engine room, are now being completed via video-link to further reduce social contact between vessel crews and our technicians.”


Based in Coventry, Sonihull has developed an industry-leading ultrasound technology that safely prevents marine algae, weeds and molluscs from colonising ocean-going vessels and structures like ships and wind farms. The technology removes the need for poisonous chemicals and micro-plastics in antifouling coatings and can reduce maintenance costs by up to 90%.

The company is transforming the way that marine applications are approaching antifouling, an industry that is worth about $100 billion annually. When fouling builds up on a ship’s hull – it can increase drag and fuel costs by up to 60%. When it builds up in raw-water cooling-systems – it can damage the main engine and put a ship out of commission.

Sonihull has harnessed the power of ultrasound and its systems are already saving up to 90% of capital and MRO costs in offshore box cooler installations, compared to Impressed Current Anti-fouling (ICAF) systems.

Currently, 95% of all antifouling systems rely on the release of toxins into the environment – this is not environmentally sustainable. The clock is ticking because the IMO (International Maritime Organisation, the world’s maritime regulatory body) is legislating towards ‘zero harm’ solutions. Sonihull technology has zero biocides, zero poisons are leached into the oceans, zero micro-plastics are shed from ablative coatings and it has zero impact on other marine life.


The Science

Sonihull transmits ultrasonic pulses into the surface of the equipment being protected, producing a pattern of increasing and decreasing pressure on the wetted-surface. Microscopic bubbles are created through the process of non-inertial cavitation. Bubbles are created as the pressure drops and are imploded as the pressure increases.

As well as preventing the creation of a biofilm, the micro-jets created during bubble collapse prevent barnacle and mussel larvae from embedding on the surface.

‘Non-inertial cavitation’ should not be confused with ‘inertial cavitation’. The latter is the process caused by huge pressure differences in fluids that can damage propellers or the insides of pumps. The forces involved with non-inertial cavitation are much lower, so there is no chance of surface damage, erosion or pitting. Ultrasound-induced non-inertial cavitation is widely used in many industries for cleaning delicate engineering components and even jewellery.

“In commercial shipping applications, operators are saving up to 90% of their capital and lifetime maintenance costs when protecting raw seawater equipment with Sonihull instead of impressed-current antifouling systems,” added Rowlands. “Sonihull is a zero-harm solution. There are no poisons, or biocides leached into the marine environment, no micro-plastics are shed from ablative coatings and no toxic metallic ions are left in your wake.”

Protect your vessel

Sonihull’s mission is to deliver environmentally safe, cost effective antifouling wherever unwanted bio-fouling persists. Our vision is:

To make dosing the oceans with poisonous biocides and microplastics a thing of the past
To deliver effective antifouling systems using the power of ultrasound
To save the oceans, one ship at a time