Alternative Ballast Water Exchange
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Alternative Ballast Water Exchange


Despite significant safety and operational constraints and serious questions about its biological effectiveness, ballast water exchange at sea remains the main management measure aimed at reducing the transfer of aquatic organisms in ships’ ballast water. Generally, IMO and various national jurisdictions have identified two main methods for ballast water exchange: the sequential and flow-through methods. Both methods come with limitations and require considerable amounts of fuel and staff time. A new method has been proposed by Teekay Shipping which relies on natural forces of pressure and gravity to achieve ballast water exchange.

Hisashi Numata, Senior Naval Architect with Teekay Shipping and Dr. Masahiro Tamashima of Fluid Tech, began working on an alternative design employing natural forces and limited amounts of fuel and manpower in 1997. Unlike the sequential and flow-through methods, the new method would not require operation of auxiliary machinery. Instead, new water enters the ballast tank main line through a water inlet at the ship’s bow. The pressure from the water flowing into the tank forces the original water out through an opening located at the forward bottom end of the ballast tank. To complete the operation, a limited power is required to pump in enough new ballast water to meet the initial water level. A patent has been obtained in Japan and the US, and a worldwide patent application filed. The proposed design is yet to be tested at real-life scale and most importantly, its biological effectiveness is yet to be demonstrated.

Howard Seto, Teekay Shipping

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