Skip to main content

An Integrated and Modular Bio-Monitoring Ballast Water Treatment System based on Advanced UV Plasma Technology Delivering Maximum Performance and Lowest System Lifetime Cost

Final Report Summary - UV-MON (An Integrated and Modular Bio-Monitoring Ballast Water Treatment System based on Advanced UV Plasma Technology Delivering Maximum Performance and Lowest System Lifetime Cost)

Executive Summary:
An Integrated and Modular Bio-Monitoring Ballast Water Treatment System based on Advanced UV Plasma Technology Delivering Maximum Performance and Lowest System Lifetime Cost (UV-MON).

The project has been conducted over 24 month duration, finishing in October 2013. The overall objectives were to develop an integrated and modular BWT (Ballast Water Treatment), system that intelligently combines a novel UV plasma treatment system with information from a bio-monitoring system (micro-organisms concentration level and water quality/turbidity indicator) in order to optimise the UV dosage required at filling/discharge to completely eliminate the viable micro-organisms. We have reduced the projected operation cost of using UV whilst retaining high efficacy under difficult water conditions. The IMO introduced standards in 2004 (due to come into force), where ships are required to have BWT system installed. BWT is an evolving technology and the UV-MON consortium aim to be part of the solution with their treatment and bio-monitoring system.

Our project members represent a number of industrial sectors, including UV water treatment & disinfection systems, cytometry instrumentation, marine safety & monitoring solutions and automation & information solutions.

Project Context and Objectives:
Ballast Water poses a significant threat to the environment since it contains invasive species (IS), both macro and micro, which are discharged to sea. The cost for controlling invasive species is very high (estimated at €9.6 - €12.7 billion). Prevention is better, hence the IMO introduced standards in 2004, however these standards are yet to be ratified with a possible date for the introduction of standards not yet established.

The Convention requires ships to have a Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) system installed and employ Best Practices in managing ballast water. By 2016, all new builds will require BWT and existing ships will have a grace period of no more than 5 years to retrofit BWT, however acceptance of the Convention has been slow.

Different technical approaches have been used including UV technology, De-oxygenation, and the use of Active Substances (AS). However, these first generation systems have limitations which range from its scalability across various ship types and flow rates, its potentially hazardous environmental effect (due to the use of AS), to its energy usage and cost of ownership/tonne for a given efficacy. These systems combine a number of techniques and are designed to just apply the maximum treatment dose in a way to guarantee that all IS are killed. This is relatively costly and energy inefficient. Hence, the uptake of the BWT systems has been negligible.

Ship operators are being put-off from installing these systems until when the Convention is fully in force, hence slowing up the market potential this industry has. Entry into force of the Convention is still pending because there hasn’t been ratification by the 30 Member States (MS) required. The matter is made worse by Regulation C-1 of the Convention enabling regional authorities to take additional measures to tackle the transfer of IS. Hence, you have a number of national to regional level regulations (northwest Europe, the Great Lakes and Antarctica, California, the US) being passed with more stringent requirements.

This uncertainty makes it difficult for ship operators to plan for the necessary equipment in a global shipping industry. There are a number of systems that claim to meet the most stringent global standards, but there is no in-service experience to validate their claims.

BWT is an evolving technology. However, it is generally accepted across industry that viable BWT consist of at least 2 stages targeting both macro and micro IS separately. Filtration/Separation is generally accepted to tackle macro IS (first stage). According to a Lloyd register UV appears to be the most preferred for the second stage treatment as the water treated by UV seems to have the least effect on the environment and the ship. UV treated water is less likely to cause corrosion of the ballast tanks compared to other commonly used treatment such as Electrolysis/Electro-chlorination.

The highest cost for UV is energy needed for a given dose, maintenance and replacement of UV lamps. Within the consortium, we have identified a combination of ways we would be able to reduce the cost of ownership of using UV and still have a system with a high efficacy capable of meeting the most stringent standards consistently under difficult water conditions of higher turbidity and frigidity.

The main objectives of the UV-Mon project were to develop an integrated and modular Ballast Water Treatment system that intelligently combines a novel UV treatment system with information from a bio-monitoring system (micro-organisms concentration level and water quality/turbidity indicator) in order to optimise the UV dosage required at filling/discharge to completely eliminate the viable micro-organisms.

Project Results:
A GB patent application was filed on the 31st May 2013, application no. GB1309727.4. Full publication will normally occur automatically 18 months after initial filing, as such the technical innovations are confidential, a brief publishable summary can be found below:

1. A modular and scalable UV treatment system.
2. Bio-Monitoring System – an integrated measurement system (flow cytometer) coupled with an auto-sampling preparation and concentration system.
3. BWT Regime – based on the information coming from the Bio-Monitors, the system has a modular treatment regime. This involves varying the dosage/flow rate of the system based on the micro-organisms concentration.
4. Online Data-Logger (ODL) System – utilised to assist in the optimisation of the UV-Mon system overtime.

Potential Impact:
Market Opportunity
In response to the challenge of treating ballast water for a broad range of ship types and sizes, suppliers of treatment technologies have started to develop and commercialise treatment solutions. The scale of potential opportunities from sales of the BWT systems has already attracted close to 50 vendors with solutions at various stage of development or commercialisation with around 100 component suppliers. The competitive environment of BWT suppliers comprises companies with varying industry backgrounds and includes: traditional suppliers of marine equipment, system suppliers originating from the water and wastewater industry, shipbuilders and even the ship owners.

BWT systems are largely customised to the requirements of the shipboard conditions. Technology combinations applied in the system vary but typically include two stages: physical solid-liquid separation (e.g. disc and screen filtration, hydro cyclones) and disinfection (using chemicals, UV, ozone, ultrasound and heat treatment and others). The global BWT equipment market presents a massive growth potential for system vendors. Opportunities on the market exist for existing equipment and component suppliers or companies in the process of the product development. Among the existing system, suppliers may include small companies established specifically for the purpose of developing and commercialising BWT equipment. In addition, the majority of system suppliers, including the medium and large players, are still in the process of establishing their sales and distribution networks and also looking for partners with established position and strategic geographic presence in the global marine industry. Companies will need to extend best practices beyond their product design set-up and take the necessary strategic initiatives of selecting and establishing strategic partnerships and setting up effective distribution and servicing channels.
Economic Impact
The development of the UV-Mon system will help to preserve jobs within the EC based partner supply chain. As new sales and markets are developed, it is anticipated that additional people will be employed by the partners, thus generating further economic growth within the EC region. Additional economic benefits would include:
• Rapid verification of compliance would mean less time in port and therefore more ‘sea based’ earning potential for the EC.
• The UV-Mon system will be the first of its kind in the market, which will give it a platform to be sold globally and therefore generate export sales for the EC, before the competition develop their systems.
• The economic costs of not guaranteeing compliance to standard before discharge will result in expensive environmental clean-up operations and significant fine for the ship owner.
• Avoidance of fine for the ship owners potentially will make them more competitive. In turn attracting trade for EC vessels.

Legislative Impact
As IMO legislation is still to be formally ratified, this gives the UV-Mon system an advantage. The proof of principle system can now be developed into a production unit incorporating the relevant legislative requirements to ensure compliance. However as the IMO legislation is still to be ratified then the UV-Mon system could be one of the first systems to meet the standards given the research and development completed under the EC FP7 funded programme. By having a compliant and tested system already available on the market prior to legislation, this could aid the ratification process and also form the basis of new legislation with regards to sampling and in-line testing.

Environmental and Ecological Impact
The main driver behind the legislation in this field is as a direct result of the environmental and ecological concerns. The dispersion of untreated ballast water from ships today, represents the 4th largest threat to the global environment , Although all of the world’s oceans can be affected, this is particularly acute in environmentally sensitive areas such as Antarctica, Alaska, the Black Sea and in the EC’s Baltic region. An example of this is in the Black Sea region, where the filter-feeding North American jellyfish Mnemiopsis leidyi which on occasion reached densities of 1kg of biomass per m2, has depleted native plankton stocks to such an extent that it has contributed to the collapse of entire Black Sea commercial fisheries. This highlights how the introduction of foreign species can cause severe human health, economic and ecological problems. Unlike other forms of marine pollution, such as oil spills, where ameliorative action can be taken and from which the environment will eventually recover, the impacts of invasive marine species are often irreversible.

List of Websites:

www.uv-mon.eu