Flow Water Technologies is at the start of the process toward ballast water treatment type-approval with a system that claims carbon neutral possibilities
Mark Hadfield is the chief executive and founder of Flow Water Technologies, a dedicated ballast water management system provider based in Cyprus. Ballast Water Treatment Technology caught up with him at the Tanker Shipping & Trade conference, exhibition and awards in London in November 2018.
Flow Water Technologies has designed a filterless compact ballast water treatment system that is undergoing IMO and United States Coast Guard (USCG) compliance testing. The system is based on the combination of an ultra-low frequency generator on the main ballast water fill-line, eliminating the need for filtration, and the production of concentrated sodium hypochlorite from seawater or fresh water using high-capacity electro-activation.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: What are the latest developments at Flow Water Technologies?
Mark Hadfield: As you know, our FlowSafe system uses a combination of concentrated sodium hypochlorite and a low-energy frequency generator working on the seawater intake. We have applied this technology to fuel lines, and one of the side effects was actually a fuel saving.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: How does it work?
Mark Hadfield: We experimented for a long time to find the [ultra-low frequencies] to manipulate the molecules of the fuel, allowing it to burn easier, provide a cleaner burn and increase power delivery. The ship can throttle back and achieve a fuel saving.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: What sort of fuel savings are we talking about?
Mark Hadfield: Not fantastic, only in the order of 0.1% to 0.5%, but that fuel saving is more than the FlowSafe ballast water treatment system requires in converted power to operate. In energy terms, it is a net saving. Flow Water Technologies is now in the process of applying for the approval as a carbon offset technology.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: What is the power consumption?
Mark Hadfield: The power consumption is 7 kW, which is marginal. It is a technology transfer. We developed a filterless system ballast water treatment system for tankers using the ultra-low frequency technology. It doesn’t require explosion-proof approval.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: Why the focus on filterless?
Mark Hadfield: This was prompted by feedback from the industry, especially the tanker sector, which wished to have no interference with the current ballasting arrangements. There is a small holding tank, but the system is modular and can be fitted anyway. We just surveyed a vessel to fit the module in the steerage section. It can also be on the deck and is suitable for use with Framo pumps.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: Do you undertake the installation?
Mark Hadfield: That is under negotiation with global agents and will be part of a service package.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: Do you undertake training?
Mark Hadfield: Yes, in fact, Flow Water Technologies has teamed up with Frederick University of Cyprus to launch the first academic and practical crew- training ballast water treatment technology course in the world. The academy is based at Flow Water Technologies’ facilities in Limassol, and will use the same low-frequency FlowSafe unit that was sent to Denmark for type-approval testing. It is modified to incorporate all the current ballast water treatment methodologies to include filters, UV and electro-chlorination.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: What was the driving force behind the academy?
Mark Hadfield: I want to give something back to the industry. This is a not-for-profit exercise. Flow Water is based in the centre of the Limassol maritime hub, and it makes sense for crew to train here using an adapted FlowSafe unit. The education side is run by six qualified Frederick University tutors and can handle up to 20 pupils at a time. The cost of the course is discounted for Flow Water users, but the adaptations to the FlowSafe unit means it can be used to train crew and inspectors on a wide range of treatments.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: You also provide online training, too?
Mark Hadfield: We have teamed up with a gaming software company using SolidWorks [solid modelling computer-aided design and computer-aided engineering computer program] to provide modern technology access to drawings and views, even on mobile phones.
Ballast Water Treatment Technology: Flow Water Technologies is a bit later to the market than other manufacturers?
Mark Hadfield: We wanted to come to the market with a single-generation system. We took out time to engineer one version which will meet all the standards. There will not be a need for a Mark I or a Mark II. We are also ISO standard for manufacturing. We have not converted a piece of equipment; it is purpose designed for the maritime market.
* The exact nature of this ultra-low frequency generator is not disclosed, but Ballast Water Treatment Technology notes that the efficiencies of ultra-low frequencies in ballast water treatment is explained in the following research paper and citation:
Osman, Hafiiz. (2016). Application of Ultra-Low Frequency (ULF) Field in Ballast Water Disinfection. The use of mechanical filtration in combination with ultraviolet (UV) irradiation is a common combination of equipment in G8 ballast water management systems (BWMS). With the recent USCG dismissal of regrowth methods for evaluating the efficacy of UV-based systems (MPN method), it is expected that the acute mortality of organisms may require an increase in UV power consumptions by as much as 400%. This may be a real constraint for many shipowners. We have tested and patented the use of time-varying ultra-low frequency (ULF) electromagnetic fields applied to marine water through wave emitters as part of UV-based BWMS. This approach is a low-energy consumption alternative to the increase of UV irradiation that the USCG position on MPN may indirectly require. The tests were conducted in Singapore using a full-scale BWMS incorporating a screen filter, a UV reactor, and an inline ULF emitter. Live/dead analysis using FDA/CMFDA methods showed that UV irradiation alone has only a limited effect on the acute mortality of phytoplankton cells although the analyses by MPN confirmed that UV is efficient over longer period of time. The sequential treatment by UV and ULF resulted in an immediate decline in live phytoplankton organisms, fulfilling the requirements of the USCG. Using ULF treatment in addition to a UV was estimated to increase the power consumption of our BWMS by only 10 kW per 500 m3/h, confirming that this approach is an excellent alternative to an increase in the power of the UV reactors.