The containerised ballast water treatment system is a clever engineering solution to a tricky problem
The containerised ballast water treatment system answers the question: what if the vessel’s own ballast water system has failed and the vessel still needs to discharge? One answer is for the vessel to perform an IMO BWM convention D1 ballast water exchange 200 nautical miles from the coast, which would almost certainly result in losing the berth and incurring extra costs and time on the voyage.
These costs in money and time could, in theory, be reduced by a port-based solution such as a ballast water treatment system on a barge or the quayside. This is exactly the system demonstrated by global shipbuilding conglomerate Damen.
Damen Green Solutions produces three models of ballast water treatment systems. The Damen LoFlo is a skid-mounted standard in vessel D-2 certified low-capacity system available with a maximum flow rate of 90 m3/hour for small yachts, naval vessels, and offshore vessels. According to Damen literature, this system is based on a filtration and UV light Bio Sea unit from France.
There are two containerised Damen Green Solutions systems. The BalCon is a smaller ballast water treatment system that fits inside a standard 20-ft container for ease of transportation. It has a maximum flow rate of 3,000 m3/hour and can be attached to the deck of a ship or from the quayside.
Damen Green Solutions also offers a worldwide (D-2 certified, US waters excluded) ballast water treatment response service, InvaSave 300. This has been developed inhouse by Damen and is claimed to be the only ballast water treatment system that offers a single-pass ballast water treatment service at the intake or the discharge port of the vessel. There is no backwash and no holding. The InvaSave modular unit operates at up to 300 m3/hour (other units can be added to increase flow rate), contained in a 40-foot shipping container.
One application of InvaSave 300 particularly pertinent to a shipbuilder like Damen is the case where a newbuilding is to be delivered but is not fitted with a ballast water treatment system due to its limited arena of operation.
In July 2018, Damen shipyard produced a 5,000-dwt newbuild product tanker, Elena H, which was loaded with clean ballast water from a Damen Green Solutions InvaSave containerised treatment system for the vessel’s delivery voyage from the Netherlands to Argentina, where the vessel will be operated by Navios Logistics, a subsidiary of Navios Maritime.
Elena H made the maiden voyage from the Netherlands to Argentina on its own keel but, once in service, will remain permanently in local waters and will not need to treat its ballast water. Damen Green Solutions explained that instead of installing a ballast water management system for this single international trip, its InvaSave system supplied clean ballast water that met IMO’s D-2 standard for the ballast voyage from the Netherlands.
Damen Green Solutions sales manager Philip Rabe said in a company statement that InvaSave has proved itself to be “a versatile tool to treat ballast water of vessels without the need to install a BWMS.” He said the company’s goal “is to build up a reliable worldwide ballast water service network” and that it is in talks with several yards and harbour service providers around the world.
During 2019, the Damen Green Solutions InvaSave box is on a tour of European ports to demonstrate its effectiveness as an emergency ballast water treatment service. This includes being installed at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for a demonstration programme as part of the 'Atlantic Blue Port Services' project.
In the demonstration, the unit was connected to a vessel’s ballast water discharge manifold and the water treated during de-ballasting.
Damen Green Solutions sales manager Philip Rabe said: “We are delighted to contribute to this important project. The importance of adequate port-reception facilities to a cleaner maritime industry is crystal clear and InvaSave can make important contributions in this regard.”
According to Damen Green Solutions, InvaSave is the world’s only land-based ballast water management system that is IMO-certified to carry out such a job in a single treatment step, without any holding times or chemicals.
The Damen ballast water treatment systems are certified to D-2. When asked if the Damen systems would be USCG certified, a company representative explained the company was in talks with the authorities.
Ballast Water Containers (BWC) has taken a different approach, in that it has teamed up with several USCG type-approved manufacturers to offer a range of solutions. BWC currently collaborates with the following BWT manufacturers: Alfa Laval, Ecochlor, Optimarin and Wärtsilä. All BWT solutions provided by BWC are available with USCG type approval.
Under the UniBallast proposal, a vessel arriving in port would discharge ballast directly into a tank barge, which would transport the ballast water for treatment at a shore based facility – including a container-based ballast water treatment system"
Early in 2019, BWC and Erma First announced a collaboration that will increase the ballast water management system options available to the shipping industry.
BWC chief executive Richard Lawson commented: “We were delighted to be contacted by Erma First, and after working closely with their technical team over the past three months we are now extremely pleased to be able to offer a containerised version of the Erma First FIT system. A shipowner can now reduce yard installation time and achieve a better control of their budget by ordering a prefabricated, preinstalled BWC Erma First container or deckhouse.”
Erma First managing director Konstantinos Stampedakis stated: “We are very eager to start our co-operation with Ballast Water Containers and we are proud to have such a well-established company as a part of our team. Our aim has always been to satisfy our customers, offering them innovative, high-quality systems and services. In this sense, we believe that this containerised version of our system will facilitate our clients as well as the installation process.”
Another container-based ballast water treatment concept is being explored by UniBallast of the the Netherlands. Under the UniBallast proposal, a vessel arriving in port would discharge ballast directly into a tank barge, which would transport the ballast water for treatment at a shore based facility – including a container-based ballast water treatment system.
UniBallast has developed an IACS type-approved Universal Ballast Water Port Connector (UBPC) for discharge from ship to the collection barge. The UBPC is available in various sizes from 4″ to 12″, or 20” or more upon request, depending on the flow capacity needed, and can be installed in the ship’s hull or on deck. Outside a flexible rubber hose connects the ship to a treatment facility, e.g. a collection barge, portable treatment container or other port reception facility. Inside the UBPC has a tie-in to the existing piping of the ship’s ballast water system. The ship’s own ballast water pump is used, so there is no loss of flow capacity compared with the normal ship’s ballast water discharge operation.
UniBallast claims the advantages are that ships do not have to wait for treatment when de-ballasting, and that the concept ensures that de-ballasting flow for treatment is similar to the ballast water pump’s pumping capacity, ensuring that ship operations are not limited by the in-port treatment operations. The ship owner’s responsibility ends immediately after discharge, and vessels are not required to wait for actual treatment and IMO/USCG required holding times for discharge.