Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences

First Advisor

Geoffrey Swain

Second Advisor

Hector Gutierrez

Third Advisor

Stephen Wood


Biofouling is a major concern to ship owners. Biofouling increases hull roughness, increasing the frictional resistance and fuel consumption while decreasing maximum speed. Finding a way to maintain hulls free from fouling has, therefore, become a research challenge for scientists and engineers. Grooming has been proposed as a novel method for controlling fouling (Tribou and Swain 2010). It refers to the regular proactive light cleaning to maintain the hull free of fouling with minimal impact to ship coatings. The purpose of this thesis is to design, build, and deploy a compliant multiheaded grooming tool which utilized five polypropylene vertically rotating brushes that have been optimized to provide suction forces that impart sufficient grooming forces to remove biofilms and incipient fouling from the surface without causing damage to the coating. Experiments were conducted on single brushes to determine the torque, attachment force and powering required to rotate a brush. The results were then utilized to determine the characteristics of an optimized brush for the grooming tool. Based on the brush characteristics the motors, gearheads, and the servo controllers for the grooming tool were selected. Motor housings and an articulating system were then designed.


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