Handle ballast water management with ease

With new regulations from the IMO and United States Coast Guard (USCG) entering into force, there are huge changes and challenges on the horizon for shipowners, ship operators, and shipyards. By 2024, all vessels will have to have an approved ballast water management system (BWMS) installed. Finding the most cost-effective and practical solution to achieve compliance will be a pressing issue as the deadline draws ever nearer.

Finding a
reliable system

60–80% of shipowners* have experienced operating issues with their ballast water treatment systems. To avoid penalties and delays, shipowners and operators need a reliable system that functions as expected and does not break down and consume maintenance resources.

Simplifying installation and operation

Incorrect installation is one possible cause of operating errors. Moreover, difficult-to-install systems can lead to lengthy and expensive retrofitting work. Ballast water management systems should therefore be easy to implement and simple to operate.

Partnering with a dependable supplier

As with any new technology, testing is crucial to reliability. Shipowners and shipyards are searching for suppliers they can rely on to validate that systems are working properly, while offering global services and spare parts to keep the systems up and running.

*According to feedback from members of Intertanko, an international tanker owner organisation.

Streamlining preparations for the new regulations

Understanding the regulations and the technologies involved in ballast water management will provide a crucial advantage in years to come. Our news articles keep you informed of important developments and changes.

A guide to finding the right BWMS supplier

When choosing a BWMS, it is crucial to consider the supplier. These tips can help you make the right decision.

07 May 2019

Choosing the right BWMS

With various treatment technologies hitting the market, finding the right ballast water management system to comply with regulations could be a challenge.

17 April 2019

Testing the balance

Ballast water systems must undergo rigorous testing to be approved for use by international and local authorities. Here, we have gathered important information on requirements into one place.

29 March 2019

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Technical solutions for ballast water treatment

There are a number of different ways to treat ballast water in compliance with the Ballast Water Management Convention and USCG standards. Most ballast water treatment systems combine at least two different treatment methods to ensure compliance. Here is an overview of some of the most popular options.

Physical separation

Most ballast water systems use filtration and separation methods to remove organisms such as zooplankton and larger algae from ballast water as part of the pretreatment process.

Additional treatment methods are required to remove smaller algae and bacteria in order to meet IMO and USCG standards.

UV and ultrasonic treatment

As they are comparatively easy to install and environmentally friendly, UV systems are one of the most popular ballast water treatment methods on the market.

They work by irradiating invasive organisms to prevent reproduction. UV systems are a user-friendly option and work in all water salinities. They also have a relatively small footprint in comparison to other systems and do not produce any by-products. However, a possible drawback is that the USCG regulation currently requires organisms to be dead before ballast water is discharged. In the near future, this regulation may change and be harmonised with the IMO regulation, which would accept sterilization as a treatment method. In theory, UV systems are suitable for any type of vessel. Although they are more commonly installed on ships with relatively low ballast requirements, such as passenger ships, and supply vessels, they are also versatile enough to be successfully deployed on larger vessels such as Panamax containerships.

Electrolytic treatment

Electrolytic treatment systems pass electric current through seawater to disinfect ballast water.

While this is an effective treatment method that complies with IMO and USCG regulations, these systems require more space than most other options and are more difficult and expensive to install. As the electrolytic process relies on the presence of salt molecules, these systems can only be used in saltwater or brackish water. Additional tanks are required for use in freshwater. Another drawback of electrolytic systems is that they are complex to operate and they produce hydrogen gas, which needs to be managed safely. They can also leave residual oxidants in the ballast water post-treatment, which then need to be monitored and neutralized before discharge. Electrolytic systems are typically better suited for use on larger vessels, such as tankers.

Chemical disinfection

Chemical injection systems work together with filtration to disinfect ballast water. This treatment method requires less power than UV or electrolytic treatment and take up less space on board.

However, crew must be trained to store and handle chemicals safely, and the cost of keeping stocks of chemicals leads to higher operating expenditure. Chemicals must also be degradable to prevent environmental pollution and must be neutralized before discharge. This treatment method is particularly common on ships with high ballast dependency, such as tankers and bulkers.

Key considerations for choosing a BWMS

Choosing the right ballast water management system depends on a number of factors, including available space on the vessel, energy requirements, and applicable regulations. Below is a checklist of the top considerations in selecting a BWMS.

Key considerations for choosing a BWTS Approval Treatment method Installation Size and space Power demands Operatin costs Usability Service availability

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SKF Marine GmbH
Hermann-Blohm-Straße 5
20457 Hamburg, Germany

Telephone: +49 (0)40 3011-0
Fax: +49 (0)40 3011 -1900

Editor in chief:
Svea Solley, Svea.Solley@skf-marine.com