Dealing With The Environmental Impact Of Water Ballast

There are many factors which need to be considered when treating ballast water, and the process often requires various approaches, all of which must be consistent and thorough. Luckily, this is a sector which has received much scientific research and investigation, and there are various methodologies which have been brought forward as being cost-effective, manageable, and most importantly, leave a minimum impact on the environment.

The Differences in Ships

While the majority of cargo vessels will be large enough to facilitate adequate water ballast purification processes, the budgets of each company and particular crew can vary, and some parties may not have the adequate funds to carry out the more extensive water purification technology. There are, however, various practices which can be carried out that are cost effective yet highly beneficial. Older ships will not have been designed with water ballast systems as effective as more modernized ones, and so will require more comprehensive purification.

The makeup of a ship must be heavily considered when selecting the relevant water purification system. The integrity of the ship must not be affected by the method, and the safety of the crew needs to be considered. Then there are also space issues. Some technologies are far too bulky and weighty to be carried safely by smaller ships.

The Usage of Sensor Technology to Monitor Ballast Tanks

One of the leading efforts for understanding and battling the possibilities of aquatic bioinvasion is through the installation of sensors. There are currently eighteen different kinds of technological systems now operating onboard ships and their ballast tanks, which constantly aid in the efficiency of neutralization, filtration and chlorination.

This process works by automating whichever kind of purification processes a ballast tank has installed, commencing whenever peaking levels of biological contamination are detected. Most systems will activate upon the detection of excessive levels of E. coli, enterococci, and bacteria. This data is then collated by programmes which will then upload found bioinvasive data to a universal server, designed to create median recordings of bioinvasive contents within ballast tanks. This information greatly aids in the automation and standardization of purification systems.

Some of the Most Effective Purification Systems

  • Filtration Systems: This technology is widely used in varying sizes and scales, from small domestic use within homes to provide a cleaner source of drinking water in homes, to more capable setups used in factories. Filtration works by implementing a screening process to water, which prohibits the passing of solid particles, allowing only liquid or gas to pass through. The size and fitting of a filtration system in a ship will depend on the typical size of organic matter that will generally be filtered. Filter systems must be cleaned often to avoid a buildup of bacteria and organic waste.
  • Thermal Heating: Boiling water at a high temperature is a method that has long been used to purify water, and can easily be applied to ballast cleaning. This setup must be carefully fitted, however, as the excessive heating of ship components could easily lead to damage.
  • Pulse/Electric Pulse: While this may be a rather costly method, the usage of plasma or electric energy waves to eradicate organic material within water is a highly thorough method which guarantees a minimal level of biological contamination.