The maritime shipping industry is on course toward better environmental protection. Measurement technology is helping to reduce the burden on our oceans.
Increasing numbers of ever-larger ships are crossing the oceans to distribute goods around the world. Each year, these vessels take on roughly 10 billion tonnes of ballast water to improve stability if the cargo holds are empty or only partially loaded. The water is taken in from the coasts, fed into ballast tanks and then discharged when the ship reaches its destination. The problem is that organisms use the water to board the ship as stowaways, making the journey from one corner of the world to another, where they can threaten the balance of the foreign ecosystem.
That’s why ships travelling in international waters have had to be equipped with ballast water treatment systems since September 2017. One of the pioneers in this field is Alfa Laval, a leading Swedish provider of key technologies in the areas of heat transfer and separation and processing of fluids. “In addition to being one of the first to meet current International Maritime Organization standards as well as the revised that enter into force at the end of October 2020, our systems also fulfill US Coast Guard guidelines,” explains Peter Nordström, who is responsible at Alfa Laval for developing PureBallast, a family of ballast water treatment systems.
Endress+Hauser supplies the measurement technology. “Our ties to Alfa Laval stem from a long partnership cultivated through food & beverage industry solutions,” says Virpi Varjonen, who manages sales support for the customer. This positive experience opened the door to the shipbuilding business. “We needed robust instruments that carry out highly precise flow and conductivity measurements and possess all of the necessary maritime approvals. Endress+Hauser met all of these requirements,” says Peter Nordström.
Endress+Hauser’s delivery capabilities also worked in its favor. “The market for treatment systems gained momentum after ratification of the IMO Ballast Water Management Convention,” says Virpi Varjonen. This prompted close cooperation on the logistics side with Alfa Laval. “Our instruments are available as soon as they are needed – and in the required quantities.” For the electromagnetic flow measurements alone, around 600 instruments were delivered in 2018, growing to 1,200 in 2019. The new Proline Promag W300 recently came into play. Designed especially for water and wastewater measurements under harsh conditions, this instrument passed the elaborate tests for use on the high seas with flying colors. “Our colleagues did everything in their power to make sure the required approvals were available in time,” says Damien Spenlehauer, OEM Account Manager at Endress+Hauser.