AkzoNobel Partners with Polar Pod for Pioneering Scientific Mission in Antarctica

Date: 30/03/2021

AkzoNobel is the exclusive paints and coatings partner of a pioneering scientific expedition which will send an oceanographic platform around Antarctica to study the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

Polar Pod, created by explorer and environmentalist Jean-Louis Etienne, will enable scientists and explorers to study the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which has a great influence on the Earth’s climate and contains a reserve of marine biodiversity.

How Polar Pod works

Polar Pod is a 100-metres high platform, thus taller than the Statue of Liberty, that will be towed horizontally to its first study area and tilted vertically by filling seawater ballast tanks – when most of the structure will be submerged. As it gradually makes it way around the Antarctic continent, driven by the circumpolar current (thus ensuring zero emissions), it will allow the acquisition of data and long-term observations that will be transmitted to researchers, oceanographers, climatologists and biologists at 43 scientific institutions in 12 countries.

Operating in an area that sailors refer to as the Furious Fifties (between 50° S and 55° S), studies will include: air/ocean exchange measurements, in particular related to CO2; wave dynamics; plankton collection and evaluation of the impact of acidification; acoustic inventory of marine fauna; validation at sea of satellite measurements and aerial observation of marine life.

The Polar Pod will be supported by a dedicated offshore supply vessel, which will be permanently assigned to the mission. It will leave the nearest port to join the platform on its drift course as it crosses the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

AkzoNobel’s sponsorship

AkzoNobel will sponsor the 1,000-ton platform for the next five years, from project construction through to the completion of its three-year mission, which is expected to start in December 2023.

This collaboration has a strong link to AkzoNobel’s 2030 “Planet” ambitions, which include reducing carbon emissions by 50% and moving towards zero waste as a company.

“This is a really exciting partnership and a fantastic example of how we’re prepared to go to the ends of the Earth to help our customers and discover pioneering ways to become even more sustainable,” says AkzoNobel CEO, Thierry Vanlancker. “It represents an intriguing blend of visionary thinking and environmental ambition which fits perfectly with our own People. Planet. Paint. approach to sustainable business. We’re extremely proud to be involved.”

“As an industry leader in sustainability and a global market leader in marine and yacht coatings, lowering our environmental impact on the planet and contributing towards ocean preservation are key aspects of our strategy,” adds Jean Michel Gauthier, Director of the company’s Marine and Protective Coatings business. “Sponsoring the Polar Pod expedition is a great way for us to help advance scientific knowledge of the pivotal role the Southern Ocean plays on the Earth’s climate and marine biodiversity. We’re looking forward to supporting the team and raising awareness of the program as the mission begins to gather momentum.”