With nearly 20 different variations of technology on offer, scientists continue to develop new ways to treat ballast water
Ballast Water Treatment Technology analysis of the 100 or so available systems shows a wide variety of technologies have been applied to the problem of meeting IMO and United States Coast Guard (USCG) ballast water treatment requirements.
The Ballast Water Treatment Technology database contains 19 individual technologies currently providing ballast water treatment:
Most of these technologies are also used in combination, and may also include a filter, giving 35 identifiable combinations. A manufacturer would really have to be ¡°thinking outside the box¡± to find a new technology. Thinking inside the box is the approach of Ballast Water Containers, which engineers IMO and/or USCG type-approved ballast water management systems into shipping containers. With the demand for ballast water management systems increasing in the run up to the 2024 deadline, Ballast Water Containers is offering a deckhouse version for retrofitting.
Ballast Water Containers Ltd chief executive Richard Lawson said: "The fully fabricated floored deckhouse with all ballast water treatment components pre-installed provides a cost-effective alternative to retrofitting, providing the following benefits: cost control (stay within the project budget by avoiding retrofit variation orders); reduction in shipyard time (unit arrives pre-fabricated with components installed); and type-approval (systems are available with IMO and USCG type-approvals).
One new ballast water management system company that truly thinks 'outside the box' is BOS Natural Ballast, which was launched at SMM in 2018 to market an alternative to current ballast water treatment systems. Jerry Ng, the chief executive of the company behind the process, Singapore-based BOS (Global)*, described it as 'disruptive technology' in an interview with Ballast Water Treatment Technology. He said that a number of shipping companies had expressed interest in the system.
Its online brochure promises that the BOS Natural Ballast equipment uses no UV, no electrification, no active substances, no de-oxygenation and no pasteurisation.¡± Instead, Mr Ng revealed, it relies on ballast water exchange in mid-ocean with the equipment performing constant checks that the water taken on board meets IMO's D-2 discharge standard. That is the critical requirement of both IMO and USCG legislation, he said, and both organisations ¡°are open to new methods of meeting the ballast water discharge standard. "Mid-ocean water is definitely way below the D-2 standard," he added.
Mr Ng said that, with traditional type-approved ballast water management systems, it is assumed that the systems 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."
The system tests prior to ballast water exchange and "only when the uptake water is clean can you do the ballast water exchange." It continues to test the water once it has been loaded.
Mr Ng would not go into detail about how the testing process works, but said it was a patented robotic system built from proprietary parts. Although that part of the process is labelled in a diagram provided by the company as a "BW management system", it differs from current ballast water exchange arrangements by providing "measurement, monitoring and verification" rather than treatment. "There is no need to treat if the water is clean," Mr Ng said.
The system's control unit records data about the ballast exchange, including the ship's position, water depth, how long the exchange lasted, water temperature and turbidity, quality of the ballast water, salinity and other parameters.
The company's literature states that the system is suitable for ships of all types and sizes, and consumes less than 10 kW of power. It is said to have a smaller footprint than any BWMS and one size fits all, its brochure notes. It is a beautiful and very simple concept, Mr Ng said.
Launched in 2019, the SKF ballast water treatment system uses technology to solve a frequent problem with UV-based systems: cleaning the surface of the lamps.
SKF has developed a new UV-based system called BlueSonic BWMS, which uses ultrasound to clean the lamps. This ensures constant operation, as there is no need to stop and clean the lamps, and a more environmentally friendly performance, as no chemicals are discharged along with the ballast water. Ultrasound is commonly used as a cleaning method and is routinely used by opticians on new glasses.
The new system can be used at flow rates of up to 1500 m3 per hour, meaning it can be applied to many different types of vessel. SKF is confident that the efficiency of this system, coupled with greater environmental awareness on the part of shipowners and operators, will make it an attractive option.
According to SKF, pre-2017 vessels are the ones with an urgent need for new ultrasound systems, which are currently going through land-based tests ¨C and afterwards will progress to tests at sea. A certificate for land-based testing is likely to be granted in early 2019, with a full certificate, and commercialisation, planned for the end of that year. This will be in plenty of time for the 2024 cut-off date for retrofitting a ballast water management system.
Atlantium is an Israeli company that provides innovative technology that has successfully helped the US Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Dam Office to prevent invasion and infestation of mussels at the Hoover, Davis and Parker dams. Atlantium says its Hydro-Optic UV system is unique in its ability to automatically and efficiently maintain a UV dose to meet application-specific needs by recycling UV light energy within the UV chamber.
The Atlantium Purestream ballast water treatment technology uses filtration in combination with Atlantium's proven medium-pressure UV technology capable of treating ballast water with a single pass. Atlantium's proprietary One-pass approach requires operation of the technology only during ballasting. There are no requirements for operation during de-ballasting. This is said to be the unique attribute of Atlantium's technology, which reduces its overall power consumption by 50% when compared with traditional UV-based ballast water management systems that must treat during the ballasting and de-ballasting steps to ensure a discharge effluent that is in regulatory compliance. The Purestream system is validated to operate at minimum retention times (¡Ü 24-hours) following treatment of 100% of the maximum flow under difficult water conditions with UV transmittance as low as 40% UVT.
*BOS (Global) was set up in June 2018 to develop this technology. The system should not be confused with COSCO's Blue Ocean Shipping ballast water management system.