2018 saw a record number of USCG type-approvals, but a recent change in the law could open the door to other systems
For better or worse, US Coast Guard (USCG) type-approval is seen as the gold standard, even for those vessels that may never deballast in US waters. Fortunately, 2018 was a good year for type-approval awards by the USCG, increasing the choice of ballast water management systems (BWMS) for those vessel operators.
Altogether eight BWMS received USCG type-approval in 2018. The first was Techcross which also become the first South Korean manufacturer to obtain USCG type-approval. Its Electro-Cleen System was granted the certificate on 5 June 2018, more than seven months after it submitted its application on 31 October 2017. That is the longest interval of any of the systems and in a statement Techcross director of sales and promotion Jay Lee acknowledged the approval process “took a little longer than we expected” but suggested this “might be due to USCG scrutinising the first application tested by KR [Korea Register of Shipping].”
Shortly afterwards, Samsung of South Korea received USCG type-approval for its Purimar filtration and electrolysis system. In June 2018 BIO-UV received type approval for its BIO-SEA B ultra-violet light based BWMS. Later in the year, at SMM in Hamburg, BIO-UV announced a new sales partnership with Asian distributor Rivertrace and the option to power up the system to zero holding hours, an important principle for vessels that spend relatively little time in port, reducing the interference of port operations.
Speaking at SMM, BIO-SEA technical supervisor Adrien Carpentier said “All other systems were designed to meet IMO requirements, and later US Coast Guard requirements.”
Achieving USGC type-approval might seem a relatively easy process to a ship equipment company the size of Wärtsilä, but it had to go through the same process as every other company. The Wärtsilä Aquarius electro-chlorination ballast water management system utilises proven filtration and electro-chlorination technology, while maintaining a high degree of safety, operability and reliability. It ensures compliance with regulations, even with varying levels of water quality. Safety has been a fundamental consideration in the design, and hazard analyses aimed at eliminating installation and operational risks have supported its development. The Wärtsilä range of ballast water management systems are backed by Wärtsilä’s global service network. Wärtsilä also offers a ballast water management system using filtration and ultra-violet irradiation, which is still undergoing type-approval.
The next BWMS to win type-approval was Hyundai Heavy Industries' HiBallast unit, which is a filtration and electrolysis system with a capacity of 75-10,000 m3/hour.
Attaining type-approval has handed a marketing advantage to those manufacturers that have achieved type-approval, but a recent change in US law will bring USCG standards in line with those of IMO. Following a bipartisan agreement on language, the USCG Authorization Act with the attached Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) was passed by the US Senate at the end of 2018.
The implications of VIDA are many but essentially brings USCG type-approval methodologies in line with those of IMO. This includes:
The change in language and the passage of VIDA through the Senate is a long-term boost to the ballast water treatment industry as it opens the door to a wider range of treatment systems from different manufacturers.
One of those is Trojan Marinex, whose spokesperson told Container Shipping & Trade’s sister publication, Ballast Water Treatment Technology "We are very encouraged with the US Senate's passage of the Bill and look forward to the US House of Representative's passage also. The Bill unequivocally requires the USCG to adopt a reproductive method based on best available science."
An alternate view on VIDA is posed by BIO-UV Group’s president and chief executive Benoît Gillmann who noted that the US Administration’s approval of VIDA and the possible acceptance of the MPN methodology does not alter the status quo until the US Coast Guard has drafted policy detailing reproductive methods.
“For the moment, the method in force today in the US is the CMFDA process. But whatever the possible modification and/or relaxation of the US rules, the UV dose must remain significant to treat all water types and a system like BIO-SEA is and will continue to be a safe choice for shipowners while staying very competitive,” said Mr Gillmann.
VIDA sets a clear, unambiguous definition of what constitutes a 'live' and 'living' ballast water organism. It defines as living any organisms capable of reproduction. If they cannot, then they are classed as 'dead'.
The US Environmental Protection Agency will have to put the standard in writing and incorporate the USCG’s final version. But irrespective of the legislation, shipowners need to very carefully evaluate system performance and limitations against their vessels’ operational scope.
The latest company to enter the BWMS arena is BOS and its Natural Ballast approach. This is a truly disruptive approach in that Natural Ballast does not aim to destroy or render the species in ballast water unreproducible. According to BOS chief executive Jerry Ng, with traditional type-approved BWMS, it is assumed that they will meet the standard. But the BOS Natural Ballast system uses what he described as a quick and reliable way of testing water that “positively ensures that the discharged water meets the standard.”
In an interview with Container Shipping & Trade, Jerry Ng would not reveal, for commercial reasons, exactly how the system works. It is believed the system uses a real-time scanner that measures the size of the species in the ballast water intake. Those batches of water that contain species too large for D2 standard are diverted back overboard or into another ballast water tank. The system uses AI and high-speed processors to record the location of the water and as the vessel sails, the BOS Natural Ballast water system constantly sorts through the ballast water, bringing in deep ocean water as required to meet the necessary level of compliance. One of the environmental lobbies' problems with most BWMS is the high power requirement, that must be met by higher fuel consumption and an increase in emissions during operations. According to Jerry Ng, the BOS system has a small in-vessel footprint, and only requires power for a small pump.
The BOS Natural Ballast system may be the latest entry it the BWMS arena, but US-based Hyde Marine has been working toward USCG type-approval for years. It completed its land-based testing for USCG type-approval in October 2018 and is still completing its shipboard testing phase for the Hyde Guardian ballast water treatment system. When shipboard testing is completed in Q2 2019, Hyde will submit the application for its USCG type-approval.
Hyde plans to continue offering an IMO type-approval version of the Hyde Guardian system separately from its USCG type-approved version for customers who do not need to deballast in US waters. This is because the USCG type-approval version requires higher power lamps to pass the stain test protocol, so the capital and operating costs for the IMO type-approved version are lower.
Hyde will soon complete installations for two newbuild cruise ships, as well as retrofits of four existing cruise ships. With implementation of the IMO regulations in September 2019, Hyde expects market demand to start increasing dramatically in the near term as shipowners work to secure compliance for vessels at their next IOPP renewal date.
Efforts have been stepped up to make retrofitting BWMS easier for operators. Ballast Water Containers, based in Scotland, has developing containerised BWMS that are suitable for retrofit, sharing or as port-based solutions. The company has developed mobile containerised versions of existing treatment systems and collaborates with the following BWMS manufacturers: Erma First, Alfa Laval, Ecochlor, Optimarin and Wärtsilä. All BWMS solutions provided by BWC are available with USCG type-approval.
Its chief executive Richard Lawson said “Shipowners are looking to reduce the time spent in the shipyard and have better control of budget. We can prefabricate which reduces the time spent in the yard.” As the system is encased in a standard container, this is simply placed into the vessel and takes hours rather than days. Furthermore, its space-saving benefits are attractive to container ships.
Mr Ward added “If an owner does not want it permanently installed in the vessel, it can be removed and placed on another vessel, for example if a ship is scrapped.”
Stelios Kyriacou (De Nora): De Nora debunking myths around the choice of water ballast management systems
With the new year well and truly upon us, there is no escaping the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) deadline, writes Stelios Kyriacou managing director of De Nora.
The pressure for owners is palpable and with so many misconceptions surrounding ballast water management systems (BWMS), it’s no wonder shipowners are hesitating. Owners of all eligible vessels, be it container, tanker, bulk or cruise, are entitled to unbiased, factual advice from their BWMS suppliers in order to make the best decisions for their business. Scaremongering, price wars and misinformation could ultimately leave the shipowner non-compliant and spending again to fix an unsuitable BWMS.
There is no one-size-fits-all for BWMS, and it would be remiss of any supplier to infer as such. For UV treatment systems – a suitable solution for many vessels, there are size, operating expenses, and accessibility factors to consider. Installation for full flow systems must be located on the main ballast line. Systems with a flexible footprint are able to circumnavigate many installation challenges with both UV and full flow electro-chlorination systems, allowing for a more flexible, streamlined process.
With over 95 years of knowledge and experience in electrolytic disinfection combined with their recent USCG type-approval, De Nora is the expert in electro-chlorination and water treatment. The misrepresentation that the use of electro-chlorination, like within the De Nora Balpure, causes any safety risk due to chlorine or hydrogen gas is a load of hot air. The process works to generate sodium hypochlorite, not chlorine gas, the strength of which is on a par with household cleaners. Furthermore, hydrogen is actively removed from the treated side-stream of the Balpure process before water reaches the tank, thus eliminating any risk of hydrogen gas being trapped in the ballast tank head space.
With BWMS, and indeed most things in life, the cheapest option does not often lend itself to endurance. Owners must ensure that they are asking the right questions of the supplier to fully understand the whole-life financial implications of their purchase. Power usage is a good example. Murkier waters require additional power from UV systems, which increases the initial installation capital expenses as well as the ongoing fuel usage of the system. UV systems use on average 30% more power than a side-stream electro-chlorination system, which is a significant operating expense over the long term.
Ultimately, purchasing a BWMS must be based on a review of the supplier and its total offering. At De Nora, we take the time to offer unbiased, practical information to shipowners in response to requests for transparency. We have the longevity and capacity to guarantee a long-term partnership solution, above and beyond the potential of some newer suppliers who are just not as familiar with the market or aware of the potential obstacles.