For better or worse, US Coast Guard approval is considered the ‘gold standard’ for ballast water management systems
Not every manufacturer agrees that having US Coast Guard (USCG) approval is clear evidence that a ballast water management system (BWMS) is fit for purpose; public perception however, hinges on this accreditation.
In a 2014 article, sister title Ballast Water Treatment Technology reported that there were 57 manufacturers offering 70 solutions – far too many for procurement managers to make an informed choice over, especially given the absence of a clear standard.
These days however, USCG approval is considered an industry benchmark and is used as a marketing lever by those companies which have attained it. Optimarin was the first company to win USCG approval (in 2016) and at the time Optimarin’s chief executive Tore Andersen said it represented “a huge day for our company and our customers”. He noted at the time that the USCG “has the world’s most stringent testing standards, meaning once a system has approval it is assured of total global compliance, now and into the future.”
The Optimarin Ballast System utilises a combination of filtration and powerful 35kW UV lamps to treat ballast water without the need for chemicals. DNV GL tested the system to USCG standards for fresh, brackish and marine water at the NIVA test facility in Norway.
Since then Optimarin has won a string of orders. In September 2018 Ardmore Shipping announced that Optimarin systems were to be retrofitted to Ardmore vessels that had shipyard-fitted units.
“We have 10 vessels with alternative systems that were installed at newbuild shipyards and have encountered a series of operational problems,” stated Ardmore Shipping director of fleet management Gerry Docherty. Earlier in 2018, it was announced that the USCG will be using Optimarin BWMS on its next-generation offshore patrol cutters.
According to Optimarin, the Norwegian company has now sold over 650 systems with over 500 installed and operating. This includes 10 recent orders from Hoegh Autoliners for retrofitting, taking the number of retrofitting orders to over 200.
“To date, eight of the 11 type-approved BWMS have been submitted for testing, with DNV GL as the independent testing laboratory”
Alfa Laval’s UV-based BWMS received approval on 23 December 2016 and on 6 February 2017 the company announced retrofit contracts that will see its equipment installed on 11 roro vessels managed by Piraeus-based Stamco Ship Management. “This order is directly tied to the USCG type-approval of PureBallast,” said Alfa Laval marine division’s Anders Lindmark. Since then, Alfa Laval has developed a more compact version of its PureBallast 3 Ex BWMS and a deckhouse version for product tankers. The latest version of PureBallast 3 Ex includes a booster pump to create enough pressure for back-flushing filters in situations where the ballast pumps are in the ballast tanks. Speaking at the announcement of a 47-unit order by Torm, Alfa Laval PureBallast Anders Lindmark said these modifications “fall within the current USCG type-approval and revised IMO G8 certificate [so] no additional certifications are necessary.”
The third BWMS to win USCG approval was OceanSaver’s Mark II BWMS, which employs filtration in combination with disinfection through patented electrodialysis and offers flexible system installation. However, in September 2017 the company filed for bankruptcy and all intellectual property, certificates and assets were purchased by IMS Group from the OceanSaver Trustee, according to a statement released by the IMS Group subsidiary TeamTec.
IMS Group chief executive Roy Langseth said: “We think it is of significant added value for customers that the ballast water treatment product range is integrated into an already profitable and sustainable business with several maritime products.”
The USCG stated that approval for the OceanSaver products still stood. In more recent news, TeamTec has become the distributor for a Japanese BWMS. Kurita Water Industries has developed a system that does not use filters, only chemicals. The Kurita BWMS is not yet USCG approved.
Boll & Kirch supply filters to SunRui, a Chinese BWMS manufacturer which received approval for its BalClor system in June 2017
SunRui is a Chinese BWMS manufacturer which received approval for its BalClor system in June 2017. The BalClor system uses a combination of filtration, electrolysis and electro-chlorination. The largest SunRui order to date involved suppling BalClor BWMS to 89 vessels operated by NYK, Japan’s largest shipowner. The latest post-USCG approval order was placed by Eastern Pacific Shipping and Raffles Ship Management for 22 vessels to be retrofitted at a cost of US$14.6M.
Ecochlor was the first chemical injection treatment BWMS to receive USCG approval. Ecochlor BWTS uses a three-step process consisting of filtering and chemical injection on uptake, along with in-tank sampling of chlorine dioxide concentrations. The manufacturer states that the process is completely effective on all aquatic invasive species, regardless of water turbidity, salinity or temperature. Its president and founder Tom Perlich said the type-approval “validates all the hard work we expended to ensure there is a reliable, efficient, cost-effective treatment system available to shipowners.” The first installation was made in 2004 and Mr Perlich noted the system works “just as effectively [now] as it did [then] without any fundamental changes.”
In 2018 Ecochlor and Scorpio Tankers agreed to a contract for 55 Ecochlor BWMS and Scorpio Tankers will become a minority investor in Ecochlor. Scorpio Tankers environmental compliance director Ole Christian Schroder said that the systems will be fitted to 55 tankers that had been delivered without any units on board.
In a statement, Ecochlor chief executive Steve Candito said the company was “honoured to have been selected by Scorpio Tankers as their BWMS compliance partner and welcome Scorpio Tankers as a shareholder in our company.” The statement did not say what proportion of the company Scorpio tankers had acquired or the amount paid.
The first Greek BWMS manufacturer to make the USGC list was Erma First. The company received USCG type-approval for one of its two treatment systems, BWTS Fit, in 2017.
“The day we’ve been waiting for has arrived,” its marketing and communications executive Irene Vitsara said after the certificate was issued five months after submitting the application.
Erma First BWTS Fit technology passes ballast water through a 40 μm filter before routing it through an electrolytic cell, in which free chlorine at a concentration of 4-6 mg/l is produced. This process makes the system the first full-flow electrolysis system to receive USCG type-approval, according to the company. It also noted that, by using an active substance produced by electrolysis, “any danger for regrowth of microorganisms is eliminated”.
In June 2018, Techcross became the first South Korean manufacturer to obtain USCG type-approval for a BWMS. Its Electro-Cleen System (ECS) was granted the certificate more than seven months after it submitted its application on 31 October 2017. Techcross director of sales and promotion Jay Lee acknowledged that the approval process “took a little longer than we expected” but suggested that this “might be due to USCG scrutinising the first application tested by KR [Korea Register of Shipping].”
Elsewhere, Samsung’s Purimar BWMS received type-approval in June 2018, as runner up in the South Korean race to Techocross. Samsung’s Purimar uses electrolysis, making it the fourth such type-approved system.
Bio-UV of France has a background in supplying water cleaning systems to industry and swimming pools and won approval for its UV-based system in 2018. Bio-UV technical supervisor Adrien Carpentier reported that the system has inbuilt spare capacity and by optimising this, it will be possible to achieve zero waiting hours. According to Mr Carpentier, Bio-UV will be able to achieve this with existing installations in 2019 through a simple software upgrade.
Wärtsilä’s Aquarius EC system was granted USCG type-approval in August 2018
Wärtsilä Marine Solutions was granted USCG type-approval for its Aquarius EC system in August 2018, after approval was submitted in April 2018. The system uses an electrolysis-based technology which can treat ballast water flow rates from 250-4,000 m3/h using a two-stage process of filtration and electro-chlorination. Its neutralisation effectiveness is continuously monitored, the company said.
The latest BWMS system to win USCG type-approval in Hyundai’s HiBallast BWMS, which is a filtration and electrolysis system with a capacity of 75-10,000 m3/hour. This BWMS has been fitted to the April 2018-delivered Almi Atlas, which is believed to be the first VLCC newbuilding complete with a Tier III engine and a SOx scrubber as standard.
To date, eight of the 11 type-approved BWMS have been submitted for testing, with DNV GL as the independent testing laboratory. DNV GL is also listed as the independent testing laboratory for five of the 10 BWMS currently awaiting approval; two of these submissions are on behalf of manufacturers that already have systems approved and are awaiting amendments.
Newcomers to the market include Panasia’s GloEn-Patrol, a combined treatment system using filtration and UV irradiation, which says the company, is the most environmentally friendly solution and suitable for all vessels. It is billed as a low-power unit and Panasia also claims its GloEn filter has the smallest back-flushing water loss. For a throughput of 350 m3/hr back-flushing requires 0.1 litre/sec, compared with about 13 litre/sec for other systems, it reported.
De Nora has also applied for USCG type-approval for its Balpure BWMS. De Nora is the originator and patent holder of electro-chlorination disinfection of ballast water through the slipstream method.
Meanwhile, JFE Engineering’s BallastAce BWMS has completed one set of tests essential for obtaining USCG type-approval and has been working with the independent US test laboratory NSF International since 2014 towards obtaining USCG type-approval.
BallastAce combines three functions: filtration, chemical treatment and venture tubes, which are designed to separate bacteria from mud and sand to enhance the disinfection effect of the chemical agent.
Finally, Qingdao Headway Technology Co has announced orders for 105 BWMS from Genco Shipping and Eagle Bulk Shipping. The order is for Headway’s OceanGuard BWMS units – currently awaiting approval – to be retrofitted to Capesize and Supramax bulk carriers. Headway’s OceanGuard BWMS uses filtration, advanced oxidation and electrocatalysis to deal with organisms.