Momentum continues to build behind ballast water refits
Shiprepair & Maintenance 4th Quarter 2017
The 8th September 2017 was a significant date for the shipping industry, as the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention (BWM) entered into force. While the majority of existing ships will have potentially up to five more years to retrofit compliant ballast water systems, following changes agreed by IMO in the summer as a response to shipowner concerns, the die is now cast, and almost all vessels trading internationally will have to fit BWM systems, if they have not done so already.
An implementation timetable for the so called D-2 standard for existing ships has been agreed, based on the date of the ship’s International Oil Pollution Prevention Certificate (IOPPC) renewal survey, which must be undertaken at least every five years. So by 2022 almost all vessels will have had to be retrofitted. Many believe this is a sensible time window that will help avoid drydock capacity for retrofits becoming a significant bottleneck.
The ballast water treatment industry was disappointed by the change in stance by IMO. But there is a sense that, after years of research and development, the rewards for investment in technology are now within reach for those companies that can demonstrate that they have approved systems that meet the requirements not just of the IMO, but of the US Coast Guard (USCG). The USCG has its own set of rules, and for vessels wanting to trade with North America, a green light from them is vital.
Getting dual IMO and USCG approval is the basic starting point for market acceptance, and at present, only a handful of suppliers have achieved this. Most recently, US-based Ecochlor has announced that its patented ballast water treatment technology has received USCG Type Approval for systems capable of treating ballast flow rates from 500m3/hr to 16,200m3/hr, having already been validated by IMO.
Tom Perlich, president and founder of Ecochlor, says: “USCG Type Approval, Ecochlor’s final benchmark, validates all the hard work we expended to ensure there is a reliable, efficient, cost-effective treatment system available to shipowners.”
Ecochlor says it is committed to offering a more efficient retrofit experience, highlighting the small footprint of its system, which makes it extremely space efficient, even for larger capacities. The Ecochlor BWMS offers a modular approach, providing further flexibility in tight spaces. Typically, only a single treatment system is required, with up to three chemical injection points connected to the vessel’s ballast lines.
Perlich adds: “Ecochlor’s focus has always been to help shipowners meet regulatory requirements in the most effective and efficient way. As one of only five USCG Type Approved BWMS in the world, this approval adds Ecochlor to a group that has successfully demonstrated that they can meet the most rigorous testing requirements worldwide.”
To add further flexibility as a retrofit option, Ecochlor has teamed up with Ballast Water Container (BWC) to offer a mobile containerised version of the system. BWC, based in Glasgow, Scotland, has developed a fresh approach to ballast water management compliance through mobile containerised BWMS that are suitable for retrofit applications.
As well as working with Ecochlor, BWC has also linked up with Wärtsilä to deliver a containerised version of the Wärtsilä Aquarius AQ-250-UV BWMS. USCG Type Approval testing of the Wärtsilä system will now be carried out using this version of the AQ-250-UV.
Also making rapid strides towards final USCG approval is the SeaCure Ballast Water Management System, an electrochlorination-based solution offered by Evoqua Water Technologies, which has now successfully completed all biological efficacy USCG Type Approval tests. The tests were carried out under the supervision of classification society Lloyd’s Register and the independent laboratory NSF International will now compile test data for submission to the USCG for approval. Evoqua says it anticipates receiving USCG Type Approval before the end of the calendar year.
According to Ian Stentiford, Evoqua’s global vice president – electrochlorination: “We deliberately selected an independent laboratory that would challenge the SeaCure system as part of the whole approval process. The testing NSF carry out is extensive and places considerable demands on the system in real-life, operational conditions. We knew that if the SeaCure system could pass these tests, then shipowners will be confident that the system they have invested in is very robust and it can actually do what it has been designed for in all at-sea operating conditions encountered.”
The SeaCure system is one of the smallest electrochlorination-based ballast water management systems to have completed USCG testing, with one unit capable of treating up to 6,000m3/h from an easy-to-install skid of just 2m x 1.5m. As such it is considered well-suited to retrofit scenarios.
Alongside progress in the approvals process, there has been a steady upswing in the number of BWMS retrofits authorised by shipowners. In September, UK-based Coldharbour Marine announced that it has reached an agreement with Greece’s TMS Tankers to retrofit its GLD ballast water treatment system on the 2013-built 158,513dwt Suezmax tanker, Bordeira, in early 2018.
Andrew Marshall, chief executive of Coldharbour Marine, says: “Our system was designed from the outset for large tankers and similar vessels, and these are our primary target market. We understand from our customers that there is still much confusion regarding ballast water compliance timetables and how the practicalities of implementation will happen. Our ethos is to help our customers make the best decisions at the right time.”
TMS Tankers says it opted for Coldharbour’s inert gas-based system for two main reasons. Evangelos Sfakiotakis, TMS Tankers technical manager, explains: “Firstly the Coldharbour technology featuring the combination of no filters plus the in-voyage treatment process guarantees that our ballasting operations will never be disrupted, and secondly, that the treatment during voyage avoids the potential risk of regrowth during a long ballast voyage. This ensures that not only will our tankers be able to meet required discharge standards at all times, but also that we can be absolutely certain that the commercial availability of the vessel will never be adversely affected by ballast water treatment system issues.”
In another recently confirmed project, Bocimar, a division of the Belgian shipping group, CMB, has signed an agreement with Envirocleanse - a company owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway - to install its patented inTankTM BWTS aboard the Capesize bulker, Mineral New York. The initial installation will be designed as a pilot study and will include the treatment of a cargo hold being used in part as a ballast tank.
Envirocleanse’s inTankTM is currently undergoing both land-based and shipboard testing for USCG aboard the USTS Golden Bear with DNV GL as the independent laboratory. Testing is expected to be completed by the end of November 2017 and applications for Type Approval submitted to both the USCG and IMO shortly afterwards.
The inTankTM uses a nozzling system patented by the US Geological Survey for dispersion and mixing in the ballast tanks. Treatment of the tanks is performed in transit, which means there is no disruption to in-port cargo operations, the company states. The inTankTM can use either electrically generated hypochlorite or bulk chemicals as the means to provide disinfectant. Having these options allows the user flexibility to choose the system which best fits their vessel profile. “Bocimar is committed to the tenets of the IMO Convention and to ensuring sustainable environmental practices,” says Lieven Van Eetvelde, technical manager, CMB Group. “We are excited that the Envirocleanse inTank system could achieve this, while allowing us to maintain efficient, ongoing vessel operations without disruption.”
Established suppliers that already have IMO and USCG approvals are also continuing to upgrade and refine their technology with the refit market in mind. As an example, a third generation version of Alfa Laval PureBallast has just been announced and is claimed to minimise both footprint and installation costs.
According to Anders Lindmark, head of Alfa Laval PureBallast: “Available space comes at a premium on any vessel. This is especially true when retrofitting major equipment such as a ballast water treatment system, which in most cases was never considered in the vessel design.”
Alfa Laval PureBallast 3.1 Compact Flex is available for flows of 32-1,000m3/h, and occupies a footprint up to 20% smaller than that of PureBallast 3.1, already claimed to be the smallest on the market. Likewise, it reduces installation costs by up to 10%, thanks to a ‘plug-and-play’ concept designed to facilitate connection. Lindmark adds: “It’s an ideal choice for the vast majority of vessels, combining the smallest possible footprint with superior performance in the widest range of conditions.”