How the Baltic standard and other new regulations are shaping cruise wastewater solutions
The Baltic standard is becoming the cruise industry norm, helping to drive this sector’s wastewater treatment market.
Scanship chief commercial officer Bjorn Abraham Bache tells Passenger Ship Technology “The market for wastewater treatment is becoming stricter and stricter, more and more ship operators understand the need to have advanced systems. There are a lot of older cruise ships that may have systems but not the right approvals for the water in which they want to sail in. Therefore, we have a big interest from cruise owners to retrofit their fleet with Baltic standard-approved systems.”
IMO’s directive for the Baltic Sea Special Area IMO MEPC.227(64), including section 4.2, came into force for newbuild passenger ships in June 2019 and will apply to the existing fleet on 1 June 2021. It states that nitrogen must be removed before wastewater is discharged into the Baltic Sea Special Area. The options for meeting this regulation include holding the sewage and discharging at port or deploying an advanced wastewater treatment system that removes nitrogen.
The Scanship Advanced Wastewater Purification system (AWP) is designed according to IMO Marpol MEPC 227(64) for nutrient removal, in addition to removing organic matter, suspended solids, residual chlorine and faecal coliforms and has met the Baltic standard since 2012. Mr Bache notes the system has been retrofitted across Norwegian Cruise Line’s and Royal Caribbean’s fleets. And it is not just these two cruise operators that are homing in on having advanced wastewater systems across their fleets. Mr Bache says “A lot of other shipowners are now looking to retrofit wastewater systems across their fleets.”
The ‘industry norm’
“The Baltic standard is becoming the industry norm. Owners want flexible fleets so they can adjust their itineraries; if they have a ship that normally travels in an area where the Baltic standard is not needed, they may find the market shifting and want to reroute ships. If they do not have the required approvals, they cannot reroute their fleet.”
When it comes to newbuilds, new cruise ships’ wastewater systems are usually compliant with the Baltic standard, Mr Bache says. Scanship supplied its Baltic standard advanced wastewater system to Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady.
And it makes sense to meet the Baltic standard as other geographical areas are either adopting stricter wastewater standards too or giving signs they will do so.
Elsewhere, the Norwegian parliament has decreed that the country’s UNESCO-protected fjords shall be free from cruise and ferry emissions no later than 2026. The measures cover emissions to air and of grey and sewage water.
Scanship’s AWP has made retrofit options easy. Mr Bache says “we have some extra steps in our design, such as removing phosphorus and nitrogen. If a cruise operator has installed the system for the Alaska standard, they can rebuild to Baltic standard. Depending on the ship and how it is configured, it might need a few more biological tanks, or it might have tanks available that can be used for our treatment.”
Scanship has installed between 25-30 cruise ships with its Baltic standard AWP, which is “regularly monitored and adjusted by a third-party laboratory,” says Mr Bache, “so we know our system is fulfilling and complying with the standard. We are continuously developing the system as we get feedback from owners and we have our own service engineers’ on board ships to service and monitor. Our co-operation with customers and engineers allows our development department to finetune and upgrade the system to ensure it is kept up-to-speed with new technology.
“The equipment is not too complicated; it is the process that is advanced and more difficult to copy with its chemistry and biology used. People can try to copy the hardware but may not manage to get the process working as this based on years of experience.”
He points out that energy efficiency is an important factor in the design of wastewater treatment systems and is something Scanship has focused on. “We are using gravity to minimise the use of pumps. Our system uses moving bed bioreactors, which use less energy than some other systems. Our system is very environmentally friendly and the energy consumption is low.”
There is another benefit too. Mr Bache says, “It can treat all different water streams including food waste reject with its bioreactors.”
Other suppliers are also offering wastewater systems type-approved to MEPC.227(64). Headhunter is producing its Tidal Wave HMX sewage treatment plant for cruise, yacht and offshore. These systems are type-approved according to MEPC.227(64) including section 4.3 where the mitigation of nutrients is required for passenger vessels in special areas.
Headhunter president Mark Mellinger says “These systems are well known and well received in these markets for their compact size and user-friendly operation.” It has signed a contract with Un-Cruise this year.
Regarding new developments, its TW-SB Smart Bio system is a flat-plate membrane system that has been submitted to USCG by the testing lab. “We expect the USCG type-approvals to be done soon,” says Mr Mellinger.
The flat-plate membrane bioreactor has a capacity range of 250 to 5,000 gallons per day. “It is called a smart biological system because each system will include an embedded PC for system control and integration to vessel monitoring systems. We also will include videos in the control panel to educate technicians on the correct operation of the plant,” says Mr Mellinger.
“Functionally it incorporates a range of simple and unique processes to bring flat-plate membrane biological systems to the mainstream market. Applying this type of technology is well known in the marine market as the first generation of flat-plate membrane bioreactors were utilised on Queen Mary 2. We have reduced the size of the plant while complying with MEPC.227(64) including section 4.2 for passenger vessels in special areas.”
MEPC 227 (64) is also a key area of focus for Wärtsilä Water Systems (WWS).
WWS has type-approved membrane bio reactor systems operating to MEPC 227(64) requirements.
Recent contracts include full waste management systems for Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery, delivered last year and Spirit of Adventure, to be delivered this year.
WWS widened its portfolio a few years ago to include dry waste management systems as well as wet waste systems. It can now offer a complete waste management system incorporating wet and dry waste collection, dry waste volume reduction, incineration, food waste collection, food waste treatment, dry and wet waste treatment. It can provide an integrated dry and wet waste management system for all sizes of vessel.
Saga Cruises’ newbuilds will incorporate both WWS’s advanced wastewater system and dry waste treatment system.
Elsewhere, Evac is supplying Evac Complete Cleantech Solution for two Global-class cruise ships for Genting Hong Kong’s Star Cruises.
The two 201,000-gt vessels are being built by German shipyard MV Werften.
The Evac Complete Cleantech Solution includes vacuum collection, vacuum toilets, wastewater treatment, dry and wet waste treatment, and freshwater generation by reverse osmosis systems for technical water quality with a daily capacity of over 3,000 m3.