22 December 2015

The IMO Ballast Water Management Convention edges ever closer to ratification, along with all the implications it contains for the 60,000 vessels that will be affected, writes Damen’s Manager of Ballast Water Treatment, Gert-Jan Oude Egberink.

Everybody knows it will come – sooner rather than later. In fact, at the time of writing, the IMO is taking the unique step of reviewing global tonnage after Morocco and Indonesia recently ratified the convention. If it is found that this takes global tonnage over the required threshold, the convention shall pass into law in November next year.

The new regulations have implications for both vessel operators and ports and Damen urges those involved to be ready when ratification comes. The convention is close to ratification and, once ratified, will come into force 12 months later. It can take ten to 12 months to go through the retrofit process and finding engineering capacity and time slots in yards can be an issue anyway, without factoring in the increased demand ratification will bring with it.

Ready in the wings

With this in mind, Damen has prepared for the forthcoming changes and waits ready in the wings with a full product portfolio of solutions. The Damen ballast water treatment portfolio is prepared for all eventualities, from vessels to ports.

Damen’s retrofit solutions aim to deliver compliance in a single package. Damen provides a basic quotation for a tailored solution. One of the options available is ‘one-stop-shop’.

Selecting the option invokes a work scope which includes survey, pre-engineering, engineering, integration plan, purchasing, pipe manufacturing, installation and a ballast water management plan. Damen is well aware of the importance of what it calls the ‘one time right’ approach.

It has to be that way – the vessel must be compliant after its renewal survey, Everything has to be signed off. Preparation is key.

Securing the chain

To make sure it is prepared Damen has been working on deals with suppliers for many years. It has created partnerships with major ballast water system manufacturers and made service level agreements with other supporting companies and organisations. Customers have the benefit of its buying power because it has secured the whole supply chain for them.

Further to this, Damen has a host of highly skilled, in-house engineers, plus a thorough understanding of the operational profile of both the relevant vessels and the industry itself. Knowledge which can help the client to reach an informed decision.

Through its teaming up with suppliers, Damen offers three ballast water treatment systems – the Trojan Marinex, Bio-Sea and Evoqua. Trojan Marinex, a pioneer in the field of UV treatment, is likely to be one of the first systems to receive US Coast Guard approval. It is suited to low and high ballast dependent vessels. Bio-Sea is suited to low ballast dependent vessels and Evoqua uses electro-chlorination for high ballast dependent vessels.

The three systems enable Damen to cover the entire maritime spectrum – from small coasters to large LNG carriers – in a cost effective, environmentally sound way. The flexibility does not end there, however, as Damen will install the selected treatment system at any yard selected by the client. This is an answer to the shifting requirements of charter vessels and changes in trade routes.

If the customer wants, Damen can prepare everything, carry out the purchasing and prefabrication, combine everything into a container and send it to a Damen repair yard or another yard of their choosing. Beyond this, it can provide training, though all the systems it uses share ease of operation and maintenance as features.

Modular Port Solutions

Of course, all of the above focuses on providing solutions for vessels, but it would be wrong to suggest that the regulations are limited to impacting on vessel owners alone. Ports also have a role to play in this. Consider vessels that operate largely on fixed routes. And what of those that are close to the end of their lifecycle? Clearly, investment in a retrofit ballast water treatment system is not going to be financially viable in cases such as these.

Ports do not have an obligation under the convention to offer ballast water treatment facilities, but they are an important stakeholder. Such capabilities are very important in the event of a vessel’s own on board system failing. This is likely to happen regularly to begin with as people will be dealing with new technology, with little experience of it and under high demand. Such facilities add value to a port from a client-facing perspective.

For these reasons, Damen has also developed a unique mobile ballast discharge system – Invasave – which can be used at on board a barge or pontoon or at the quayside attached to a vehicle or in a fixed reception facility.

The system is fully containerised, a feature which gives the potential to scale up operability as and when required. InvaSave is fully compliant with IMO regulations. Each container hosts an InvaSave ballast water treatment system with a capacity of 300 m3/h. The container, at 45ft, can be loaded in multiples on board a pontoon or barge. Damen is once again prepared here, having already developed a vessel perfectly suited to accommodating InvaSave containers.

In order to empty the ballast water, the vessel can connect to the trailer or treatment vessel and discharge over the InvaSave unit. The system then discharges it at sea. Herein lies one of the key features of InvaSave – treatment at the point of discharge. Many conventional on board systems have to treat the water on intake and at the point of discharge.

Plug & Play

When designing InvaSave, Damen set out to develop a product that, like its on board systems, was extremely user-friendly – the result is a product that is essentially a plug-and-play system. In order to use it, a vessel simply needs to have a deck connection. Furthermore, InvaSave is self-sufficient, with its own generator and booster pump.

Because it is modular, it is easy to increase capacity. For vessels with much larger ballast water capacities, several InvaSave containers can be interconnected – the same applies onshore if mobility is not required.

The suitability of InvaSave as a port solution is well demonstrated by the story of its development. The prototype was originally developed for the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wadden Sea National Park in the north of the Netherlands, with the support of the Waddenfonds – the organisation responsible for the protection of the Wadden Sea.

Damen teamed up with a number of partners, including Groningen Seaports, Dutch marine research institutes IMARES and MEA-NL, Van Gansewinkel, Wagenborg and Evers Manders.

Van Gansewinkel will operate the first ever InvaSave system from the ports of Eemshaven and Delfzijl after the convention enters into force.

Currently, the technology is undergoing field tests for statutory type approval based on the requirements of the IMO and the Dutch flag state. Type approval is expected imminently.

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