“It’s a problem that has somehow stayed under the radar when it comes to general public awareness,” states Kim Diederichsen, the CEO of Copenhagen headquartered BAWAT, “but the discharge of untreated ballast water causes enormous damage to our marine ecosystems.
“Just think…every year about 10 billion tons of ballast water are transported around the world. This is fundamentally important in stabilizing ships and compensating for different cargo loads. But it’s not just water that is transported. Each day around 7,000 marine species hide away in ballast water tanks – picked up in one place, e.g. Singapore, and deposited in another, such as Rotterdam. When released from captivity they find themselves in new environments, with new ecosystems where, as is often the case, they can out muscle native flora and fauna. The harm this causes, both environmentally and financially, with impacts upon industry and livelihoods, is staggering.
“But no more!” he says with a determined smile: “Now we’re fighting back.”
A new era
The ratification of the IMO’s Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, in conjunction with strict regulations from the United States Coast Guard (USCG), means that more than 60,000 vessels in the world fleet are now required to install BWM solutions. Such technology is designed to eliminate or neutralize organisms within ballast water and put a halt to further invasions. Compliance is a necessity for global trade, while non conformity will damage shipping businesses almost as much as it hurts the environment with, for example, potential penalties of USD 30,000 for ships discharging untreated ballast in US waters.
“The regulations effectively mark the dawn of a new era,” states Diederichsen. “But compliance can be easier said than done, with a short timeframe to conform and an array of BWM technology to choose from, much of which can be complex, unproven and expensive to operate.
“That’s where BAWAT steps in to help.”
BAWAT technology is unique, but it isn’t ‘new’. In fact it’s been used simply, effectively and efficiently for more than 150 years. It’s pasteurization or, in other words, heating the water.
“There’s a genius in simplicity,” says Diederichsen, “and our system couldn’t be more simple; it is effective, easy to operate, cheap to run and straightforward to maintain. Essentially it works by heating the ballast water to eliminate any potentially harmful organisms. The process is effective at temperatures as low as 64 degrees centigrade. That’s it. No need for any chemicals, UV, filtering or post treatment holding time, and effective with just a one-pass solution.
“As such it treats the ballast during voyage, ensuring that crews can focus on their essential tasks in ports - cargo handling, bunkering, repair jobs and port state controls – and go about operations with increased efficiency, productivity and reduced stress.”
Besides the effectiveness, market leading low Opex and simple, proven technology within BAWAT systems there’s an added ingredient that will suit the tastes of any environmentally conscious shipowner and operator.
The heat for the pasteurization process is obtained from a ‘green’ source, as it is scavenged, waste heat produced by the engine.
Another key point of differentiation, as Diederichsen is keen to point out: “The fact that this is heat that would otherwise simply be vented to the air makes our solution, we believe, the most innovative, green and sustainable system on the market. Full stop.”
Plugging into ports
In a further development, thecompanyhas also developed a contingency, or portside, solution whereby vessels can simply ‘plug in’ and pass untreated ballast water through a containerized version of the BAWAT system. This can be used if operators have issues with their existing systems from different manufacturers or, in a bold step, if they choose not to install systems at all.
“It’s a completely new way of approaching this pressing problem,” the BAWAT CEO states. “As long as the water is treated according to regulations then vessel operations are compliant. That doesn’t necessarily mean ships have to install systems themselves – why not utilize a reception facility instead? So, there’s a potentially huge business opportunity for ports, dry dock facilities and service suppliers to provide BWM as a commodity service, in the same way as they conduct cargo handling or provide potable water. With a mobile, containerized system, a whole new source of revenue – and considerable cost savings for owners – can be achieved.
“It’s this kind of innovative thinking, allied to our unique technology, that makes BAWAT a genuine disruptor in this emerging field,” he concludes.
“Ballast water is a huge global problem and we need the best ideas, and the brightest innovations, to address it in a meaningful way. With our solution, and the backing of forward thinking shipowners, we believe we can help our industry win the war against the spread of invasive species.”
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