Barges, OSVs and other craft with variable operating patterns could use mobile systems, according to one manufacturer
Mobile ballast water management systems (BWMSs) could save some ship operators up to 80% of their compliance costs, according to the chief executive of UK-based Ballast Water Containers (BWC), Richard Lawson.
He made the claim during a presentation in March at a seminar organised by BWC’s parent, the Malin Group, aimed at barge owners and operators, for whom Mr Lawson believes mobile containerised systems such as those his company offers “represent one of the most commercially efficient methods of compliance.” As reported elsewhere in this guide, in April the 72nd meeting of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee rejected a proposal that unmanned non-self-propelled barges be excluded from the Ballast Water Management Convention, so they must comply with its provisions.
Mobile treatment systems are particularly suitable for vessels with low utilisation, such as barges, Mr Lawson said, or those with minimal and predictable ballasting operations – such as fixed-route container vessels and liner services. “An owner investing in a small number of mobile treatment systems could share them between multiple vessels, avoiding having to retrofit each vessel individually,” he said.
BWC’s mobile system, called BWCBute, would also be suitable for offshore support vessels (OSVs), Mr Lawson told BWTT. He pointed out that a supply vessel’s operational area varies from project to project, and will need to treat ballast water if it is crossing international boundaries.
“Like any equipment, a BWMS sitting idle on a vessel for several months – or even years – is not an ideal scenario,” he said. “You can be sure it will require a major overhaul to get it back to operational readiness.” In his view, these problems are avoided by installing a mobile system only when an OSV’s operation calls for ballast treatment. Otherwise, it could be removed and deployed on another vessel.
BWC installs proprietary BWMSs in its containers and currently offers the US Coast Guard (USCG) type-approved Ecochlor and Optimarin treatment systems or Wärtsilä’s Aquarius AQ-250-UV BWMS, which applied for USCG type-approval in early April. Having a choice of technology “is important if we want to fully satisfy the needs of our clients,” Mr Lawson said.
He reported interest from ports and port services companies in containerised BWMSs following MEPC 71 in July, which approved a circular that sets out what ports should do if a ship arrives that is not fitted with a BWMS and has not been able to conduct ballast water exchange. The circular requires such ships to contact the port authority to confirm the availability of “reception facilities, port- or land-based treatment systems or any other alternative measures to the D-1 standard acceptable to the port authority.”
After the BWMC came into force in September, he again noted that “interest in mobile containerised treatment systems continues to grow” as an alternative to retrofitting.
Water quality concerns support BWTBoat concept
IRClass’s proposed BWTBoat is designed to deliver treated ballast to ships and could overcome concerns raised at IMO about the difficulties of ballasting in ports with high levels of total suspended solids (TSS).
In a report prepared for BWTT, the BWTBoat’s inventor and project manager Sandip Patil referred to what he called an “eye-opening” submission by South Korea to IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2017 (MEPC 71). That paper reported that ballast water management systems (BWMSs) do not work properly in ports with challenging water quality (PCWQs) because they are either getting clogged or ballasting operations are delayed because of frequent back flushing.
Korea’s paper suggested that, as a contingency measure, ships should take in untreated ballast in these ports, conduct a ballast water exchange in mid-ocean and treat the water taken on board at that time.
One response to that came from Canada during the fifth meeting of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) in February 2018. Canada raised concerns that this might breach the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) because water would be taken on board untreated. It also raised doubts about whether a discharge port would accept this procedure.
Both the Korean and Canadian papers mentioned the possibility of receiving clear ballast from port-based facilities, if those were available, Mr Patil said. BWTBoats can do that, he added. They have a much larger water catchment area than a ship and multiple filters to deliver flows of up to 10,000 m3/h, he explained.
Even before what he termed the “muddy water ports issue,” BWTBoats had a unique business model, he said. “Now BWTBoats can provide additional benefit by providing an option to provide just filtered water to ships at muddy water ports.” A ship fitted with its own BWMS would receive this filtered water and treat it further using its onboard system.
IRClass has been working on this concept since 2013. Mr Patil’s report described a design development that has halved its cost and means that ships do not need any retrofitting or deck connections to receive treated ballast water from BWTBoats. He described the new arrangement as acting like an “external plug-in to ship’s sea chest.”
In his paper, Mr Patil realised that although BWMSs are mostly tested at real-world biological loads, they are not subjected to real-world sediment loads. “G8 guidelines only specify the TSS condition as >50 ppm (>24 ppm for USCG) but no upper limit,” he commented in his report for BWTT. “In the real world, TSS load can vary up to 1,000 ppm, directly affecting – delaying or stopping – cargo operations.”
Damen plans to expand its InvaSave network
Southern European and Scandinavian ports are the next targets for Damen Green Solutions (DGS) as it looks to expand its network of its InvaSave containerised ballast water management systems. Damen Green Solutions product manager Matthijs Schuiten told BWTT in March that the company is also investigating the possibilities for port treatment in the US.
These plans mirror comments by DGS sales manager Philip Rabe, who said in December 2017 that the company’s goal “is to build up a reliable worldwide ballast water service network.” They follow growth during 2017 that made its units available in 10 north European ports by the end of the year under two service agreements: one with fellow Damen Group member Damen Shiprepair & Conversion, covering eight ports, and one with MariFlex, covering two ports.
But the Damen Group is cautious about growth prospects, telling BWTT in a statement in December that “the number of customers will increase in line with the enforcement of the ballast water regulations.”
In March, Mr Schuiten said that the delayed compliance schedule for ships to meet IMO’s D-2 standard, which was agreed by its Marine Environment Protection Committee in July 2017, has had an effect on the prospects for port-based systems. InvaSave offers an option to vessels that cannot meet that standard, which “will only become relevant in 2019 when the first ships constructed after 8 September 2017 start to arrive in the ports. This is almost two years later then the original timetable,” Mr Schuiten said.