Ballast Water Treatment Monitoring Systems
Ocean hitchhikers! Ballast water discharges by ships can have devastating effects on the marine environment and ultimately the health and well-being of the people who depend on it.
In the process of moving 80% of the world’s freight, shipping transfers approximately five billion tons of ballast water over large distances every year, with a similar volume likely to be transferred on domestic scales. Although the use of ballast water provides a low cost and efficient method for the stabilisation of un-laden ships, the introduction of invasive marine species into new environments via ballast water has been identified as a major threat to the ecology of the world’s oceans and human health. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Ballast Water Convention (2004) was drawn up to address these issues. With implementation of this convention, it is estimated that 68,000 vessels will require functional, certified ballast water treatment systems by 2016.
What is Chelsea's solution? The new Chelsea FastBallast sensor is an extremely compact and robust Fast Repetition Rate fluorometer, which is designed for installation into ballast water treatment systems or ballast tanks. This sensor uses proven technology to provide real time monitoring of ballast water to the IMO D2 standard within the 10 to 50 µm category, which is dominated by the phytoplankton. Because each measurement requires only 200 µs, ballast water can be monitored whilst it is being treated and discharged, at linear flow rates of up to two metres per second. A combination of large dynamic range and high sensitivity allows the FastBallast system to detect the 'variable fluorescence' from a low number of viable phytoplankton cells, on top of a high background signal from non-viable phytoplankton, free chlorophyll and other fluorophores.
Ship owners are concerned about the sampling requirements and the port state controls for sampling. How will FastBallast reassure them? FastBallast will enable rapid online testing of ballast waters for the IMO D2 standard. It will enable ship operators to determine if their ballast water treatment systems are working correctly and provide evidence to the port state control. The technology also lends itself to be packaged into a hand held unit for use onboard by the PSC themselves. This will give the operators real time confidence in their treatment systems. It will therefore avoid unnecessary downtime for the vessel.
How will FastBallast compare with other systems/ procedure available? FastBallast samples two times a second through an optical window. It reacts to changes within a few seconds, much faster than competitive products, and is ideally suited to moving water as found in treatment systems. No need to stop and take a discrete sample.
How was FastBallast developed? The FastBallast is based on Fast Repetition Rate fluorometry that we have been developing over the last 15 years. It was originally developed for marine science applications investigating the photosynthesis reaction in marine algae. We have evolved the technique and applied to wider applications including biofuel production, homeland security and pollution monitoring. It is ideally suited to ballast water monitoring due to its fast response time (less than one second) and ability to monitor all algal groups.
When was it launched? The FastBallast is based on sensor technology launched in 2011. It is currently being repacked and configured for ballast water applications in 2013.
Is the system tamper proof? The system can be provided as either an open, or tamperproof installation.
In your opinion, are systems providers primarily focused on the new build market? Is this a mistake? The focus is very much on both the new and retrofit markets. With up to 65,000 ships requiring systems the retrofit market is very important. Equipment suppliers have to ensure that the equipment they install meets IMO standards. Ship owners must ensure that any treatment system they buy and fit will operate to IMO standards in all areas of the world they intend to operate. There is no guarantee that the ballast water would be within legislation even after being treated with an approved treatment system, but at the present there is no established technology available currently to monitor compliance. Chelsea Technologies have developed FastBallast - a Fast Repetition Rate fluorometer which provides real time monitoring of ballast water to the IMO D2 standard within the 10 to 50 micron category, which dominated by phytoplankton, by studying their photosynthetic rate.
How does the Chelsea's monitoring system fit in with what's required of shipping owners? FastBallast will enable rapid online testing of ballast water at the IMO D2 standard. It will enable ship operators to determine if their ballast water treatment systems are working sufficiently. The technology allows measurements to be made under a linear flow rate of 2 m/s, therefore, ballast water can be monitored whilst it is being treated and discharged. The monitoring system is fully automated and requires minimal maintenance and labour. It can also be used as a feedback sensor for the treatment system to ensure it is being operated efficiently.
"The only system capable of working both in real time and at the D2 standard" said Chelsea's Dr Kevin Oxborough.
"Invaders From the Sea" - Fantastic film giving a unique insight into an important environmental issue: the transfer of harmful organisms in ships' ballast water. This amazing story looks at how this phenomenon is affecting our coasts and millions of lives around the world and the measures taken by the global community to fight against these alien stowaways.
Learn more about the issues around Ballast Water Management - check out the IMO website.
Download technical paper: Using FastRepetition Rate fluorometry to monitor phytoplankton at the IMO D2 standard within ballast water discharge, K Oxborough & HG Chan, CTG, Jan 2013.
Ballast Water Treatment - are you on course for compliance? Article written by CTG and PSM addressing the impending legislation for Ballast Water Treatment and offering a practical solution for areas that are currently at risk of being overlooked. (Jan 2013).
Main features of FastBallast
On-line and handheld systems for:
Photo used above kindly supplied by NOAA - Ballast water overflow during flow-through exchange experiment conducted on the Berge Nord.