The Purposes of Ballast Water Treatment Systems in Ships

Blog | July 16th, 2019

Aquatic life forms pass the day by swimming lazily in light currents. It’s the same for ocean living plants, which grow happily between submerged rocks. Even tiny plankton colonies, almost invisible to the naked eye, survive in warm or cold waters all around the globe. Then something comes to scoop these species up and carry them away from their natural habitat. Unfortunately, that’s just what happens when boats take on ballast water.

Untreated Ballast Water Systems

Without a ballast water treatment system, ships pick up uninvited passengers. Sure, while that sounds like a harmless enough side effect, nothing could be further from the truth. These invasive oceanic species get carried vast distances. After a ship has completed its long journey, the ballast water is returned to the ocean. But there’s a problem, a bio-invasion is being staged because these foreign life forms are now free. They’re free to unbalance and possibly cause permanent transformative changes to delicate underwater eco-systems. In view of this potentially disastrous situation, maritime engineers have come up with several effective solutions. Once upon a time, chemical disinfectants were accepted as one of those solutions. That’s no longer true, for aggressive chemicals can cause just as much damage as an invasive species.

Let’s Talk About Eco-Friendly Ballast Treatment

Several treatment options exist. There’d be even more choices, but they’re not environmentally viable. They produce toxic by-products, which obviously defeats the whole purpose of this exercise. Anyway, there’s a system that we’ve described in some detail in past articles. Using VOS (Venturi Oxygen Stripping) technology, a ship’s ballast tanks can no longer support life. Water is still filling the trim-correcting hull chambers, but that water contains no life-sustaining oxygen. Consequently, the tiny foreign invaders suffocate. Another option comes to mind. This time a two-system approach eliminates the aquatic hitchers. A filtration stage combines with an Ultraviolet light source to clean the ballast. Alternatively, similar to VOS systems, ozone is pumped into the tanks. Along with an oxidizing biocide, the bubbling ozone kills the foreign organisms before they can be released into a new ecosystem.

Some chemical additives are still used in ship ballast systems. Classed as oxidizing biocides, they’re made up of harmless compounds. Chlorine is one such chemical, which is commonly used in swimming pools and domestic water supplies. Still, the preferable solution is always one that doesn’t add something to a sensitive marine environment. Deoxygenation systems slot nicely into this eco-preserving category. Following close behind, UV lamps and advanced filtration systems work, too. Diving deeper into a whole new world of technology-sourced solutions, there are ultrasonic organism killers, heat boiling systems, plus a newly developed range of electrically pulsed ballast treatment systems as well.

Optimized by