The rapid increase in world trade has brought growth and prosperity to countless people across the globe. Commercial maritime vessels, however, carry more than coveted goods: Their ballast water may transport sea-living organisms such as bacteria, microbes, small invertebrates, eggs, cysts and larvae to ecosystems where they don’t belong and lack natural enemies.
The introduction and spread of alien invasive species is a serious global threat to marine and freshwater ecosystems. New species may completely alter the local communities, drive species to extinction as well as cause economic damage. Described as one of the four greatest threats to the world’s oceans, bio-invasions continue to increase at an alarming rate and new areas are being invaded all the time.
IMO requirement by 2024
Necessary for a ship’s stability and manoeuvrability, ballast water helps balance the payload, which varies depending on whether cargo has been loaded or offloaded at port. To combat the problem of invasive species, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has required that all vessels must be fitted with a certified ballast water treatment system (BWTS) by 2024. Those that fail will be denied access to commercial ports.
How is ballast water treated? Merely using mechanical filters won’t stop microscopic organisms from entering the ballast tank when water is pumped on board – additional disinfection is needed, usually through exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays or chlorination. Swedish Alfa Laval has opted for the former, a common method for purifying drinking water that has no negative impact on the environment.
Among the first vendors to market a certified BWTS solution, Alfa Laval has seen demand skyrocketing since stricter regulations were first announced in 2016.
Linus Brohlin, Alfa Laval
“Being an early mover and among the first to offer a certified solution, we clearly anticipated the need to retrofit existing vessels,” says Linus Brohlin at Alfa Laval Business Development.
Supplier credit guarantees from EKN
The cost of retrofitting a ship with a BWTS runs between 90,000 and 500,000 euros, depending on vessel size and capacity requirements.
“This is a major investment to smaller and midsize shipping companies, whose revenues are fluctuating in tandem with the general economic development and rapidly shifting freight rates. To be able to offer our customers an attractive solution that included financing, we turned to EKN.”
By offering supplier credit guarantees from EKN for a duration of between 3–5 years, Alfa Laval gives shippers a chance of spreading the financial burden of a BWTS retrofit over a longer period.
“It’s not just good news for the shippers, but for their banks as well, since EKN’s guarantee lowers the customer credit risk,” adds Brohlin.
From a sustainability perspective, the partnership makes a lot of sense, says Michael Regmert, senior underwriter at EKN:
“Alfa Laval’s solution protects the maritime environment, so we’re happy to help out.”
Currently in its third generation, PureBallast 3.2 works in all types of water – fresh, brackish and oceans – and even in murky waters (such as busy ports often offer) with UV transmittance as low as 42 percent. Over 1,200 systems have been sold to date, including more than 300 installed as retrofits. The components are manufactured in Aalborg, Denmark, but R&D, management and marketing functions are based in Tumba outside Stockholm.