Damen develops ballast water treatment unit
Damen Shipyards in the Netherlands is developing a mobile ballast water treatment unit.
The implementation dates for the new ballast water management regulation are approaching fast, but for many ship owners, treatment systems are simply too expensive. “A mobile solution could help ship owners avoid the high installation costs of such a system, project manager Matthijs Schuiten says. “Especially ships with designated routes or old ships that are no longer worth the investment may benefit.”
The vessel will be fitted with a filtration system with a capacity of 600 m3/h. Ballast water is discharged to Damen’s mobile treatment unit, where it will be cleared of living organisms and sediment and subsequently put overboard.
“The system does require ship owners to install a deck connection for the discharge of their ballast water, but those costs are only a fraction of the costs of an entire system”, Mr Schuiten continued.
The filtration system was tested in the Wadden Sea and the IJsselmeer, where the water is muddy. “In both cases the test results were great. The treatment system is now awaiting IMO approval.”
According to Mr Schuiten, the capacity of future ballast water treatment vessels could be scaled up to a tenfold the capacity of the current system.
The development of this ship is a joint initiative of Damen Shipyards with Dutch marine research institute Imares, Groningen Seaports, Van Gansewinkel, MEA-NL, and Evers Manders and is partially subsidized by the Waddenfonds, an organisation that focuses on the preservation of the Dutch Wadden area.
“During the last 35 years, about one hundred invasive species entered the North Sea, says Mr Schuiten. “These species do not have any natural enemies in this area and threaten to unbalance the local ecosystem. This new ship will help preserve the Wadden area by providing ship owners who can’t afford their own treatment system with a suitable alternative.”
In the United States, ballast water regulations (USCG Ballast water Final Rule and EPA Vessel General Permit) entered into force on the first of December, 2013. IMO regulations (IMO Ballast water Management Convention) are expected to follow in 2014. These regulations specify the requirements discharged ballast water needs to meet, but not how these requirements need to be established. Using an external treatment unit is allowed.
The costs for using Damen’s mobile treatment unit are still unknown. “But we will probably charge a price per discharged ton”, says Mr Schuiten. The ship is scheduled to be finished in 2015 and will operate in the Groningen Seaports of Eemhaven and Delfzijl.
By Tobias Pieffers
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