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Can Hydrogen Peroxide Remove Barnacles from a Ship's Hull?
April 7, 2008

Can Hydrogen Peroxide Remove Barnacles from a Ship's Hull? (April 7, 2008)

Subject: Hydrogen Peroxide
From: Mike Hughes  <>
Date: Mon, April 7, 2008
To: Editor


My name is Mike Hughes from seaforce in Western Australia. Can you tell me if H202 can kill the marine life that attaches to the hull of boats? We are looking at fitting a plastic bag over the hull of a boat under water, bring the plastic 1 meter above the seawater level, and add a % of H202 between the hull and plastic and wait a while. Dilute the H202 and returne remander to ocean. Any help will be appreciated.

Mike Hughes


Hi Mike,

Just working off the top of my head without actually experimenting, I would doubt that you would get the effect you are hoping for, BUT I don't know for sure because I have no knowledge of the affect that peroxide may have on barnacles or other marine life that cling to a hull.   Remember the H2O2 is an oxidizing agent. It releases a singlet oxygen and water. How is that going to interfere with the binding mechanisms that barnacles use to
attach to a rock or a hull? I haven't got a clue but you need to experiment beforehand and FIND OUT before going through all the work and expense. If the hull is wooden, you need to find a section of wood that has the same type of barnacles attached to it just like the boat and place it inside a large bucket, like a 5 gallon plastic bucket. Cover the wood (and barnacles) with sea water and measure how much sea water you've added. Then decide on what concentration of peroxide you want to start with (E.g. 35%, or 12%, or 6%, or drugstore level 3.5%) and then write down the amount you add to the water and observe what you get over the next 6 hours or 24 hours or 48 hours etc. If you planned on using ONLY H2O2, then start with 3% and work your way up after observing the results. Here in the USA, one gallon of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide is about $65 + shipping. Obviously, you can use a cheaper grade, but how much is one gallon of cheap grade 35 % peroxide in Australia?  You would need a non-reactive plastics like polyethylene to surround the hull and LOTS of peroxide. This could get real expensive.

You have to first find out if peroxide has ANY effect on loosening barnacles, then you need to find out how much concentration it takes of peroxide to water volume to get the loosening effect (if there is a loosening effect). Now of course, if the concentration of peroxide gets HIGH enough it's going to cause an oxidative reaction between the suction membranes used to hold the barnacle to the hull and they are going to weaken due to the oxidizing action, but that may be prohibitively expensive versus more traditional ways of removing barnacles.

Who knows? You may be on to something new in hull cleaning, but you have to experiment first on a small scale to find out what actually works. You just can't guess about this. You have to know.

If peroxide worked, then maybe bubbling ozone inside a plastic bag surrounding a hull could also work, but at much less cost. It's worth looking into.

Let me know.

Regards, Ken


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