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BaWaPla
Sustainable Ballast Water Management Plant

The movement of some 3 to 12 billion tonnes of ballast water (BW) in ships internationally each year has been responsible for the translocation of 10 000 aquatic species across biogeographical boundaries. The aim of this project is the development of a BW treatment technology (UV, filters and electrolysis) into a completely self-controlled system.

Tags: Water

Background

Maritime transport is of fundamental importance to Europe and the rest of the world. Over 90% of the European Union’s external trade goes by sea and more than 1 billion tonnes of freight a year are loaded and unloaded in EU ports (European Maritime Safety Agency). The transfer of species in ballast water has been going on for as long as the shipping trade. The movement of some 3 to 12 billion tonnes of ballast water in ships internationally each year has been responsible for the settlement of about 100 million tons of sediment. Its cleaning and the disposal of the ballast sludge produced involve enormous costs as well as job hazards and time. Furthermore, as the sediment cannot be removed, the freight capacity of the ship decreases with time and stability problems arise.

Besides these economic aspects, ballast water has been recognised as a major vector for the translocation of aquatic species across biogeographical boundaries. It is estimated that as many as 10 000 alien species of plants and animals are transported per day in ships around the world. As ships travel faster and world trade grows, organisms are better able to survive the journey, using the settled sediments as a substrate, but the threat of invasive species from ballast water increases. Thus with a reduction of sediment settlement in ballast tanks, a significantly reduced danger from alien organisms can be expected.

Objectives

Various ballast water treatment options have been considered in the last 10 to 15 years, including biological, chemical, physical and mechanical treatment techniques or a variation thereof. However, common sense is one treatment step that is not at all sufficient for a thoroughly sustainable cleaning of all types of ballast water around the world on all types of ships.

The aim of the proposed project is the implementation of known treatment technologies (UV, filters and electrolysis) into a completely self-controlled ship’s ballast water (BW) system. A central issue of the proposed project is the invention of a final treatment technology incorporating non-permanent, self-generated active substances as the BW needs to be disinfected and this is not possible with UV technology alone. Chemically, these may consist of ozone, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, free oxygen and other disinfectants, and by producing these substances through electrolysis they need not be stored, carried and produced on land, thus reducing the risk of spill and other accidents. Chlorine produced directly on site by electrolysis represents an extremely economical alternative to other chlorine products, and without the need to store hazardous chemicals.

Description of work

The major technical objective of this project is the development and construction of a ballast water (BW) treatment plant in realistic conditions on board seagoing vessels with minimal environmental effects and adhering to the International Maritime Organisation’s guidelines for ships’ ballast water and sediments. The project consists of seven work packages:

Work Package 1: Technological and regulatory review

Work Package 2: Electro-chemical technology

Work Package 3: Development of full-scale BaWaPla system

Work Package 4: Automation and integration of BaWaPla system

Work Package 5: Full-scale ship installation of the BaWaPla and field tests

Work Package 6: Dissemination and exploitation

Work Package 7: Project management

Results

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