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In-Voyage Ballast Water Treatment System

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Treatment system eliminates invasive species discharged by ships’ ballast water

Though vital to ships’ safe operation, ballast water transports organisms and sediments from one part of the world to another. An EU initiative introduced water management technology that eliminates harmful invasive species before they are released into new marine environments.

Transport and Mobility icon Transport and Mobility
Climate Change and Environment icon Climate Change and Environment

The EU-funded IV-BWTS project developed a ballast water management system (BWMS) that gets rid of invasive species by applying a heating technology. The solution treats ballast water in voyage using excess heat from vessel engines or other waste heat sources, thus saving energy and operating costs. BWMS runs automatically and independently of other on-board procedures.

Novel treatment system uses waste heat

BWMS is unique in that it uses a vessel’s own waste heat from the main engine or other heat sources to neutralise through pasteurisation any organisms in ballast water. “It’s eco-friendly because it doesn’t require any chemicals, filters or energy-consuming ultraviolet lights,” notes Marcus Hummer, Managing Director of Bawat, the Danish-based ballast water treatment specialist that coordinated the project. By exploiting pasteurisation, BWMS can be used to treat ballast water in all water conditions, regardless of salinity, turbidity and temperature. It has no holding time restrictions, and water is treated in one pass only. Another innovation is that components like heat exchangers and pumps are all standard components found on board vessels today, and therefore well known to crews. Yet another defining difference between BWMS and existing systems is the ability to carry out in-voyage treatment. As a result, a vessel’s cargo and ballasting operations aren’t impacted because of slow water treatment.

Committed to meeting all ballast water treatment regulations

To prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, vessels are required to comply with the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Furthermore, when operating in American waters, vessels must also comply with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Standards for Living Organisms in Ships’ Ballast Water Discharged in U.S. Waters. “There are thousands of vessels that will require effective, simple and efficient solutions installed between now and 2024 when the last IMO deadline comes around,” explains Hummer. “Most shipowners seek cost-effective systems that have both the IMO Type Approval and the more stringent USCG Type Approval to be reassured that the technology works and their vessels can remain compliant with both international and local regulations. A vessel without USCG Type Approval, even if it isn’t operating in United States waters immediately, will certainly lack future flexibility to do so.” Project partners obtained a Type Approval Certificate for the BWMS from the USCG – the de facto licence to operate in the global market. This certification makes the BWMS one of the first to be tested and issued approval under the new stricter mandatory requirements of the IMO’s Code for Approval of Ballast Water Management Systems. They were also granted the IMO Type Approval for the BWMS technology. “To be one of the first systems awarded Type Approval under these new stricter conditions is a confirmation of the hard work we have put into what is the most sustainable and simple treatment system on the market,” concludes Hummer. “It gives our customers the confidence that we have a product for their future needs. This is going to change the way people think about ballast water treatment. The USCG approval gives us the platform we need to really kick start this process. There are exciting times ahead.”


IV-BWTS, ballast water, vessel, BWMS, Type Approval, ship, invasive species, waste heat

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