Alfa Laval’s PureBallast 3 system is a fairly mature ballast water treatment solution, now in its third generation. However, there have been some notable technical developments from the company over the past year or so, especially to enhance suitability for bulkers and tankers, which have continued to keep the technology ‘fresh’.
The relatively recently introduced PureBallast 3 bulker-fit configuration reflects the characteristic that bulkers often load their cargo at twice the rate they unload it, which means deballasting occurs at twice the ballasting speed. Peter Sahlén, head of Alfa Laval PureBallast, says: “Our new bulker-fit configuration takes advantage of this by independently dimensioning the reactor and filtration capacities. Since the filter stage is only needed during ballasting, its size can be reduced without affecting performance.”
For tankers without a pump room, Alfa Laval has developed its PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse solutions for installing systems on the weather deck. Sahlén comments: “Our deckhouses are far more than just containers, as they encompass all the reinforcements, insulation, ventilation, heating and other elements needed to safeguard lifetime performance. Our design has been the model for DNV in creating an approval for such enclosures, and a booster pump unit can be integrated to ensure back-flushing pressure if the onboard ballast pumps are insufficient.”
Earlier this year, DNV issued a Type Approval Design Certificate for Alfa Laval’s PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse solution. This is considered a major achievement, representing the first design approval for the installation of ballast water treatment systems on the weather deck. For customers and system integrators, it is expected to mean time and money saved in the final approval process onboard.
The latest addition to the range is the PureBallast Yacht. This has been specifically developed for yachts and comes in high gloss white with SMO stainless steel piping.
Sahlén adds: “For vessels of all types, however, the most exciting development is the more widespread rollout of PureBallast Connect, our digital service offering in terms of ballast water treatment. This lets crews, superintendents and shore teams monitor live and historical data, so that they can benchmark and optimise ballast water treatment systems across their fleets. The data generated can also support our service team in remote troubleshooting, which results in better communication and fewer and shorter visits.”
Like most ballast water treatment suppliers, Alfa Lafal reports very high levels of demand at the present time, as the retrofit wave peaks in line with vessels’ compliance schedules, a situation that it expects will persist through to the end of 2022. One of the biggest single contracts signed in recent times, and confirmed by Alfa Laval, came from Starbulk, which selected the new PureBallast bulker-fit system for 37 of its Supramax, Ultramax, Panamax, Kamsarmax and Post Panamax bulk carriers. Nicos Rescos, Chief Operating Officer at Star Bulk Carriers, commented: “This is the appropriate solution in meeting the demanding trading requirements on these vessels. Cargo loading rates at the terminals where our vessels call worldwide continue to increase and are significantly higher than the cargo discharging rates, requiring different deballasting and ballasting rates for optimisation each time.”
At the same time as the overall boom in orders, Alfa Laval detects that there is a subtle, but significant market shift underway. “Most of the large fleets have made their decisions and are now implementing their chosen systems,” reflects Sahlén. “Many smaller fleets, however, have not had similar resources and staff that could be dedicated to ballast water treatment at an early stage. Those who are making up their minds today may have 10 vessels or fewer, but their decisions are no less critical to their future business. As suppliers, we need to be attentive to a wider range of customer needs and make good information even more accessible.”
Looking to the future, Alfa Laval believes there will be a continued shift towards providing service and support for those systems already in operation. “Compliance involves more than installing a system and turning it on, as the regulations demand ongoing efforts in the form of system inspections, function checks, calibrations and crew training,” says Sahlén.