Ballast water is seawater that ships take on or discharge, in order to ensure their stability. During this process, billions of tons of ballast water are transferred across international waters annually. Ballast water carries a wide variety of marine organisms, including micro-organisms, phytoplankton, and zooplankton. While most species will not survive the voyage, some do thrive to form viable populations when discharged into their new environment. These newly-established alien species can be harmful to humans and the biodiversity of the local marine ecosystem, as well asthreaten local fishing industries. In the USA alone, it has been estimated that thecost of such invasive species could be as high as US$138 billion a year.
Globally, there is a heightened awareness of the consequences caused by the transfer of non-native organisms through ballast water. The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments was adopted by a Diplomatic Conference at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2004. This has agreed upon a quality standard for discharged ballast water. According to the Convention, ships are to install and use an on-board ballast water management system by 2016. There are some estimated 60,000 ships that will require ballast water management systems. The ballast water treatment market is estimated to be US$34 billion.
The BlueSeas BWMS was reviewed by the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection and awarded basic approval from IMO in July 2011. The first and currently only technology from Singapore to receive basic approval, the BlueSeas BWMS will be commercialised once final and type approvals are granted in the next few years. The unique quality of the BlueSeas BWMS lies in its ability to treat ballast water using less space and energy compared to other BWMS in the market. Involving a number of processes over a period of 10 to 12 hours, the BlueSeas BWMS uses a patent-protected and highly cost-effective electrode and a series of supporting devices for the treatment of ballast water. With a smaller onboard footprint and lower energy consumption, the BlueSeas BWMS will appeal to ship-owners who are concerned with discharging high volumes of ballast water in a short period of time using a compact BWMS.