A comparison between UV radiation, electrochlorination and chemical injection
Choosing a ballast water management system (BWMS) can be challenging. Especially if you don’t know the ins and outs of a specific system, let alone the ever-growing number of systems available on the market. One thing is for sure though: there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to BWMS. However, some are more suitable than others for your ship and its specific conditions. In this article, we will compare the pros and cons of the three most common BWMS out there: UV, electrochlorination and chemical injection systems.
What sets different ballast water management systems apart is how the ballast water is treated after passing through the initial filter (since most systems use a filter to remove parts and organisms bigger than 50 microns). Generally, a system works so that during ballasting, seawater is loaded into the ship with the help of pumps. The water then usually passes through a filter, after which it passes a treatment step to be fully cleansed from living organisms and sediments. This step in the process is what separates one system from the other, as different systems use different treatment methods.
Many factors come into play when looking for a suitable BWMS for your ship. For starters, there are many available treatment methods out there – from UV radiation, pressure vacuum and heat, to chemical injection, electrochlorination and ozonation. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and what is optimal for one ship might not be the best choice for another.
On top of this, there are ship-specific factors that need to be considered before settling on a specific system, such as the size of your ship and its ballast water pump capacity. It is also important to consider your ship’s operating route and the water characteristics of said route, as some systems might be incompatible with certain types of water.
Lastly, your system needs to be approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Since the Ballast Water Management Convention was ratified in September 2017, all vessels weighing more than 400 gross tons need to be fitted with a compliant and type approved BWMS.
FINDING A BWMS THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU
All systems mentioned above work on the principle of one or a combination of mechanical, physical, or chemical treatment methods. The most prominent BWMS today are UV radiation, electrochlorination and chemical injection. While most of these systems work on the principle of running water through a filter, they use different treatment technologies to purify the actual ballast water.
The three technologies discussed in this article are not the only systems available on the market. They are, however, some of the most prominent ones used by ship owners and operators. This does not mean that they have to be the best choice for your ship or operation. We always recommend that you do thorough research and due diligence before picking a system. Help from an expert can be a worthwhile investment as it will help you find the best possible solution for your needs.
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