Filtersafe’s Smartweave Screen: Water Filtration at a Whole New Level

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Most eCommerce clicks not only put new clothes or appliances in your virtual shopping cart, they also are putting your packages on cargo ships for delivery. The continued dependence on online shopping has meant more work for  international shipping vessels, which are constantly moving from one corner of the globe to another – and they’re discharging ballast water in every port they visit.

This can be dangerous for our oceans, as zooplankton, phytoplankton, and other microorganisms that hitch a ride in ballast tanks can damage the native ecosystems if they are deposited into a new body of water. Therefore, it is essential that ships filter their ballast water before releasing it back into the sea.

As a company founded by engineers, Filtersafe has been dedicated to finding innovative solutions to filtering sea water. The current seawater screens often suffer two main problems: blockage, which can result in pressure depressions and a decreased flow rate, and an inability to filter out smaller microorganisms.

To address these issues, the Filtersafe engineers created the Smartweave screen. This unique technology is a weave-wire screen specifically designed to tackle the challenge of seawater filtration. By using a combination of weave wire filtration screens, protective screens, and a reinforcement layer — as well as the automated cleaning power of our Everclear system — this innovative, highly effective screen filters out sediment and microorganisms, protecting native marine life in every port. Its combined efficacy and durability make the Smartweave screen a filtering element ships can rely on for years.

 

How It’s Made

Filtersafe understands the unique challenges facing ballast water filtration (one of the most challenging seawater applications). Seawater contains microscopic particles that can cause harm when transferred to other ecosystems and encourage the creation of corrosion within the ships’ interior. Filtering out elements this small requires a complex and multi-layered system, so the Smartweave designers created exactly that.

The Smartweave screen is made up of three stainless steel weave-wire screens and a fourth reinforcement layer to enhance the screen’s integrity. This includes one filtration control layer, two protective layers on either side, and one reinforcement layer. We then take this combination of screens and sinter them together, creating one mega-screen that is durable enough to filter without additional support.

These screens are available in a variety of sizes, from 500 microns down to 10. This allows ship owners to choose a Smartweave screen that best suits their vessels’ unique needs. The Smartweave seawater screen is also made from 904L stainless steel: an stainless steel that offers high corrosion resistance, higher quality, and a longer-lasting screen than the standard 316L stainless steel and other options in the market today.

The innovation and careful design work behind Smartweave have made it one of the top weave-wire screens for seawater filtration today. This screen offers enhanced strength and top performance, so shippers can trust that their ballast water is safe to discharge and is compliant with the IMO G8 requirements.

 

How Does It Work?

All the innovation in the world doesn’t matter if a product doesn’t work. The engineers at Filtersafe know how important seawater filtration is, and so they’ve spent years testing and perfecting the Smartweave screen. As a result, Smartweave is one of the most effective filtration systems available today, keeping zooplankton, phytoplankton, and sediment out of ballast water across the world.

The term “zooplankton” refers to small microorganism and the immature stages of larger species. It is vital to filter these from ballast water, as they can be detrimental to the native ecosystem at a port of call. According to tests from Filtersafe and other research groups, the Smartweave screen removes 99.95% of zooplankton from ballast water – more than any other filter available today.

Shippers also need to filter phytoplankton from their ballast water before releasing it into the sea. Phytoplankton, or microscopic marine algae, are an important food source in the ocean’s ecosystems – but only if they’re in the right location. While phytoplankton can be very small (as small as 10 microns), Smartweave is an effective filter for them, too. that the Smartweave screen removes 100% of phytoplankton larger than the micron of your selected screen.

Finally, a filter must be able remove sediment and other suspended solids from any ballast water. Once again, Smartweave delivers here:  A series of tests we conducted on our filter show that even in extreme conditions when the TSS levels reached 2500 ppm, we were able to decrease the decrease suspended solids from 2500 ppm to 100 ppm – a removal rate of 98%.

 

Constantly Improving

Today, Filtersafe treats 25% of the world’s ballast water – and all because of unique, innovative, and effective products like the Smartweave screen. For some teams, the Smartweave screen’s impressive filtration rates would be enough to call the filter a success. But Filtersafe is dedicated to making the ballast water filter even better.

The team is constantly innovating and perfecting our ballast water treatment systems. We’ve outfitted our Smartweave screens with our Everclear cleaning sequence, which automatically returns your filter to its original operating parameters. This ensures peak performance and an optimum flow rate – and provides the user with peace of mind.

Each Smartweave screen is used in conjunction with Filtersafe’s patented nozzles – the Nozzlex system. This uses suction technology to clean the screen thoroughly and completely with each use(without damaging it). These features help maintain the Smartweave’s exceptional performance, so captains can focus on their cargo and getting to their next location and not just about meeting USCG or IMO water treatment standards.

*Efficacy is dependent on the size and distribution of the TSS.

Sizing Up BWTS Filter Options To Reduce Operational Compliance Risk

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In a recent panel discussion for Riviera’s Ballast Water Webinar Week, Dr. Guillaume Drillet, Regional Manager at SGS, shared his views on the main reason for ballast water treatment system (BWTS) failures during compliance testing. Speaking on the webinar titled “BWMS commissioning testing: making it work in practice”, he said that organisms over 50 microns in size are responsible for clogging BWTS, subsequently leading to test failure.

His comments underline the critical importance of BWTS filters – the component responsible for preventing organisms from entering the tanks. Without a strong and robust filter, the effectiveness of the entire BWTS could be compromised, leaving manufacturers open to criticism from ship owners and operators, who must repeat unsatisfactory tests at a later date.

 

Compliance challenges

Selecting the right filter brings significant rewards to the shipping industry, from driving compliance, to preserving marine biodiversity and increasing operational efficiency.

Each BWTS and vessel is unique and faces its own set of challenges and specific stresses. These are impacted by the BWTS used and the conditions it must operate in. For example, there are challenging testing conditions in shipyards with poor water quality, shallow harbors with a high silt load, and difficult initial loading conditions. If a filter is unable to withstand these conditions and clogs, water flow through the BWTS will be limited or even prohibited.

 

Regulation requirements

Under IMO G8 requirements, filters must prove their ability to perform effectively in water with total suspended solids (TSS) up to 50 mg/liter. However, the threshold to pass this test is not reflective of water quality standards in some key maritime locations. For example, TSS in the Ports of Shanghai and Hamburg are twenty times higher than IMO G8 requirements for BWTS type-approval testing. This means high-quality filters that exceed IMO performance standards are critical.

Fortunately, filter performance in more challenging marine environments can be tested through the Control Union Shanghai filter test (Procedure CUW-HBR-P-2), which uses proxy mud up to and beyond 1,000 mg/L to test filter performance.


Size is part of the solution

In order to prevent organisms over a certain size from impacting BWTS and compliance testing, filters need to be engineered with a design that has effective mesh sizes.

Filtersafe use mesh sizes from 10 microns upwards, at flow rates from 50-5000m³/hr in a single unit. Using these fine mesh sizes ensures the system prevents organisms from entering or impacting the system by settling into the ballast tanks or clogging the system.

A filter capable of withstanding the highest TSS conditions found in the world’s oceans will provide confidence to shipowners that the BWTS will pass compliance tests in any port around the world. In its Shanghai Test, which simulates an excessively high particle load, Filtersafe filters did not clog, even when the test reached 2,500 TSS.

With compliance testing coming ever more to the fore, BWTS manufacturers, shipowners, and operators need to be confident that systems are capable of performing effectively throughout the lifecycle of the vessel across all marine environments, including areas where water quality challenges are acute. It is important to remember – mesh size matters.

How well does Cathodic Protection negate corrosion when used in Seawater Filtration?

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Ballast water filters need to withstand the most challenging circumstances in seawater filtration. Why is Cathodic protection considered the industry standard for corrosion prevention, and is it the most effective solution available?

A recent report made public by the U.S. Maritime Administration stipulates that, as of January 1st, 2015, there were 41,674 ocean freight merchant vessels (weighing in at 1,000 gross tons and over) registered with an International Maritime Organization number and sailing through waterways across the globe. Among the ships in this worldwide fleet are vessels ranging from container and general cargo ships to tanker ships. While these ships run the gamut with respect to size and functionality, they all share a single and particularly significant vulnerability. They all run the risk of falling prey to corrosion-related degradation of their ballast water filters due to the various corrosion challenges facing ballast filtration systems. Taking in seawater for ballast naturally invites a host of microorganisms that ballast water filters need to treat, such as Sulphate-reducing bacteria and phytoplankton, which stimulate microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). The filters not only need to protect the ballast water tanks from MIC, but they are also subject to rust themselves and need adequate protection against it. After several challenging years focused on securing regulatory compliance under the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) and U.S. Coast Guard’s Final Rule for ballast water treatment, shipping’s priority has shifted to operational compliance, which ensures BWMS are compliant for the lifecycle of the vessel. At the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 75th session, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued guidance to Administrations that all BWMS installations should be tested following commissioning. This requirement, as well as guidance previously issued by individual flag administrations, has provided the first glimpse into the real-world performance of ballast water management systems after installation. One of the main reasons for BWT failures during compliance testing is organisms over 50 microns, which clog the system. This can be prevented by a strong and robust filter. Without it, the effectiveness of the entire BWTS could be compromised, leaving manufacturers open to criticism from ship owners and operators, who must repeat unsatisfactory tests at a later date. In an ideal situation, to ensure uninterrupted operation and protect BWTS, the recommended practice of leaving the ballast water filters full at all times or emptying and drying them would help prevent corrosion and its subsequent degradation from taking root. However, the need to take on more ballast water to accommodate the absence of cargo during particular portions of a given voyage and unexpected rough operational conditions during loading and unloading procedures often makes it difficult to successfully and satisfactorily complete the process on a thorough and regular basis. The result: sedimentation accumulates on the ballast water filters, leading to reduced service life, the risk of failures, and high, short- and long-term maintenance costs. To ensure uninterrupted operation regardless of varying water conditions and other unpredictable factors, ship owners need effective and dependable filtration systems that protect their entire ballast water management systems. The filters remove as much matter from the water as possible before it goes on to secondary treatment, reducing the amount of chemicals needed and time required to neutralize living organisms in the water. If the filters themselves are not adequately protected from corrosion, they might not filter water effectively, incurring frequent maintenance and replacement costs.

Cathodic Protection for Ballast Water Filters in Seawater Applications

Today, most ballast water filter screens in the world are made of 316L stainless steel. Cathodic protection is the most common corrosion protection method for this type of steel, making it widely used in vessels worldwide. Cathodic protection safeguards the metal against corrosion by connecting the at-risk steel to a highly active “sacrificial metal” acting as an anode. The anode introduces free electrons to the space and relinquishes its ions. In doing so, the formerly active 316L steel areas on the screen’s metal surface become passive, and the new, more active metal coating ultimately and safely corrodes instead. While Cathodic protection has long been recommended by filter and screen manufacturers to provide the necessary protection for ballast water screens made of 316L steel, this corrosion protection approach has some significant drawbacks. A sacrificial anode can be used for protecting the filter’s screen, but the anode is consumable, and its dissolving leads to the formation of a hard scale on the screen surface. This scale is caused by the buildup of calcium carbonate and results in clogging of the screen pores. In high consumption rates of the anode, this becomes a critical risk and requires regular cleaning of the screen. The economy of Cathodic protection is less-than-ideal. Although it is cheaper than other alternatives, installing Cathodic protection is complicated. Once it is up and running, ongoing electricity supply and periodic inspection and maintenance fees add to the cost. While Cathodic protection is a viable solution, its durability may call its high investment requirements into question. In particular, the sacrificial anodes’ limited available current and their vulnerability toward rapid corrosion lead to a shockingly limited lifespan. Furthermore, sacrificial anodes need to be immersed in an electrolyte for a minimum of 24 hours before Cathodic protection can be applied. If filters are not regularly kept full as recommended by manufacturers, the sacrificial anodes need to be immersed for 25% of the voyage. With such downsides to Cathodic protection, it would only be natural to ask: Are better options available?

Alternatives to Cathodic Protection

One of the best alternatives to Cathodic protection is using a higher grade stainless steel for ballast water filtration. For example, 904L steel eliminates the need for Cathodic protection altogether. Traditionally used in the high-technology, aerospace, and chemical industries, 904L is also famously utilized in Rolex’s luxury watches. It has been chosen by luxury watch manufacturers thanks to its higher polish and water-corrosion resistance, enabling wearers to go about their daily business wearing the high-ticket accessory worry-free. Austenitic stainless steel 904L has a higher percentage of nickel and chromium than 316L steel, in addition to copper. Its composition provides it with superior corrosion resistance capabilities, rendering Cathodic protection unnecessary. Indeed, 316L steel is the traditional staple coating historically relied on by the ballast water market, and as such, it is regularly produced and widely available. But while 904L is less common, it is still relatively available, and can be supplied with excellent lead time. Though the initial cost of 904L steel is higher than that of 316L steel, due diligence processes have found that the benefits of applying 904L steel for ship ballast filters in seawater applications far outweigh the costs. The higher durability requires less maintenance and extends the lifespan of screens and filters, ultimately saving the industry precious stakeholders’ time and money in the long-term. If better corrosion resistance can be obtained by upgrading the steel, the traditional choice of 316L steel for ballast water screens, which necessitates Cathodic protection, needs to be re-evaluated.

Bottom line

Using Cathodic protection to prevent corrosion of ballast water filter screens made of 316L steel requires more frequent maintenance and part replacements, leading to increasing costs over time. The sacrificial anodes used in Cathodic protection stimulate the formation of scale, which clogs the screens. Installation of Cathodic protection is complicated, and the anodes need to be immersed in an electrolyte for a significant portion of the voyage. Overall, Cathodic protection is complicated to install and is a less durable corrosion prevention approach than other existing solutions available in the market today, such as using a higher grade stainless steel. Several parameters have been used to evaluate corrosion prevention approaches for ballast water filtration systems, including Pitting Resistance Equivalent Number (PREN), Pitting Resistance Accelerated Test, corrosion rates in acidic conditions, and natural seawater tests. A new comparative analysis of corrosion resistance approaches is now available for download in a special free white paper.   Download it now: Overcoming Corrosion of Stainless Steel Screens in Seawater Applications.

Filtersafe’s NozzleX: An Innovation that will Save Your Filter Screen

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At Filtersafe, we understand that water filtration is essential to helping many industries run smoothly. However, we also understand that today’s filtration technologies can always be improved — which is why we strive to be a leader in the world of water filtration. Our engineers have decades of experience in the industry, and they’re dedicated to creating the top technologies for automatic filtration.

One such technology is the NozzleX suction scanner – an innovative tool that enables the cleaning of organic and inorganic material from your filter’s screen, without wearing down the nozzle or wearing out the screen. With a typical automatic screen filter, the nozzles sit on a bar called a raiser. The raiser moves the nozzle heads back and forth along the length of the screen, while also rotating the nozzles in a corkscrew motion. The nozzles scan the surface, and by using negative pressure, dislodge debris one square inch at a time. While this does help the screen filter water effectively in the short term, the force from the nozzle can damage the screen and shorten its lifespan.

NozzleX, by contrast, uses low head pressure (as low as 23psi) to clear off all the buildup on the screen without damaging it. First, the raisers move the nozzles in such a way that 100% of the screen is scanned and cleaned. Next, in contrast to other filters, NozzleX nozzles safely come into contact with the screen, utilizing gentle pressure to pull materials off of the screen without impacting the screen’s integrity. This results in improved performance and a longer lifespan for your ballast water filter or other filtration technologies.

 

How it Works

The NozzleX uses passive suction to remove organic matter like debris and sediment from the filter screen. Through an innovative combination of consistent force and passive pressure, whereby the nozzle both actively removes material from the filter while allowing the naturally occurring changes in pressure to carry it away, this nozzle makes cleaning your filtration system an easy and automatic process.

This patented system moves around the filter screen automatically, using as little as 1/32nd the force of typical cleaning nozzles to offer a thorough cleaning with minimal wear. Then, the nozzle disposes of reject water through the system’s flushing chamber, guaranteeing that buildup won’t remain on your screen.

NozzleX is part of Filtersafe’s Everclear cleaning system, which includes the Smartweave screen filter. Working together, these two technologies provide exceptional filtration power while minimizing space. This ensures that operators can use their filtration system as long as possible.

 

Benefits of NozzleX

In the world of water filtration, NozzleX is truly a revolution. This unique cleaning tool offers several significant benefits to an automated filtration system, which can make a real difference in the quality and longevity of a system. Here are just a few of the unique benefits you can get from using NozzleX:
  

    • Continual System Operation: Firstly, NozzleX runs as part of the automated filtration system. There’s no need to halt system operation and clean out your filtration screens; instead, NozzleX will clean your screens throughout the filtration process.
    • Minimal Surface Area: In addition to its consistent cleaning functionality, the NozzleX is exceptionally compact. The nozzle takes up a mere 1% of the screen area, which allows your filtration system to continue running even while it’s being cleaned, and without significantly hindering the flow rate. This will result in greater filtration capacity and greater overall efficiency for your system.
    • Improved Performance: Dirty or clogged filters can have a serious impact on a filtration system’s efficacy. In fact, Filtersafe testing has shown that some systems lose performance in as little as six hours. In that time, a system’s flow rate can drop from about 3,000 m3/hr to less than 1,900 — but NozzleX maintains a consistent flow rate throughout its operations. With NozzleX, you’ll be able to get the optimum performance from your filtration system all day long.
    • Zero Screen Wear: Finally, one of the greatest benefits NozzleX provides is the way it minimizes screen wear. Other nozzle-based cleaning systems use significant force to remove debris from their filters, which can lead to punctures and other damage that cuts the screen’s lifespan short. NozzleX, in contrast, equalizes system pressure to use far less force — around 1.6 Bar (23psi) of head pressure. This means your filter screens suffer next to zero wear, allowing them to operate much longer than other screens.

     

    Why It’s Important

    The importance of a properly functioning nozzle is simple – a water filtration system only works when it’s clean. Whether you are filtering ballast water before filling your tanks, protecting your oil and gas exploration equipment safe from organic oceanic materials, or prefiltering water for desalination, each filtration system should have the same thing in common  a reliable nozzle to clean your screen.

    So, why not let NozzleX do the job for you?

    NozzleX ensures that a filtration system stays clean throughout operations, thereby making sure that the system remains effective and efficient. As part of Filtersafe’s Everclear system, NozzleX will provide users with a completely clean filter screen — and that will help guarantee superior performance from your filtration system.

     

    To learn more about the NozzleX cleaning technology, contact Filtersafe today. Our team will be happy to answer questions and help you find the system that best suits your industry and your organization’s unique filtration needs.

Advancing filtration standards in the ballast water industry

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Filtersafe boosts filtration standards in the ballast water treatment industry by removing 316L grade stainless steel from its filter supply chain

 

Commitment is part of Filtersafe’s $10m market-feedback program and will see the company manufacture its filter screens with the more durable 904L grade steel

 

ISRAEL; Monday 15th February 2021:  Filtersafe, a world leader in automatic seawater filtration, has today announced the removal of 316L grade stainless steel from its supply chain for ballast water treatment system (BWTS) filters. The commitment will see Filtersafe switch to 904L grade stainless steel at its manufacturing facilities in Israel and Hong Kong, which produce filters for around 25% of the global BWTS market. Filtersafe’s pledge comes as the company introduces a plethora of technology upgrades as part of a $10m market-feedback program designed to boost the quality, durability, and turnaround time of BWTS filters – all without impacting filter affordability.

 

Founded with the aim of tackling the world’s most complex water filtration challenges, Filtersafe supplies filters to many of the shipping industry’s leading BWTS manufacturers including De Nora, Ecochlor, Group, Evoqua, ERMA FIRST, SunRui, TeamTec, Techcross, and Wärtsilä. The initiatives announced today mark a step-change for Filtersafe, as the company aims to enhance the agility of its maritime business in response to the shipping industry’s increasingly dynamic regulatory and operational landscape.

 

Until now, 316L steel has been widely used across the global maritime industry as the material of choice for BWTS filter screens. However, the alloy is prone to early pitting corrosion, which can compromise the overall effectiveness of the filter and the entire BWTS. In contrast, 904L steel is up to 82% more durable, meaning it can more effectively support the longevity of filter systems, as well as lowering maintenance costs. To guarantee the quality of steel used in its filters, Filtersafe has invested in two x-ray fluorescence (HHXRF) analyzers that will enable the company to carry out positive material identification (PMI) testing on every metal alloy that enters its manufacturing facilities.

In addition to the x-ray analyzers, other upgrades that form part of the $10m market-feedback program include an FS laser cutting machine designed to improve repeatability in the manufacturing process, thereby minimizing the margin of error and further reducing the possibility of filter screen corrosion. A newly digitalized warehouse system also brings additional accuracy to the manufacturing progress, adding an additional layer of quality assurance as well as optimizing the production line so that filters can be delivered in four to six weeks – the fastest lead time in the global maritime industry.

Commenting on Filtersafe’s latest initiatives, Mark Riggio, Head of Marine at Filtersafe, said: “With ballast water regulations maturing and the global maritime industry shifting its focus to operational compliance, the critical role of filters within overall the BWTS has really come to the fore – with ship owners increasingly understanding that a strong and robust filter is critical to overall system reliability.

 

“As the core material used to build filters, stainless steel should be viewed as a key factor in determining a filter’s long-term performance; it is the first critical building block from which ship owners can realize greater value from their BWTS. By being the first manufacturer to transition away from 316L grade steel, the typical steel used in maritime applications, to 904L we hope to elevate standards across the entire industry and deliver a more efficient balance between filter durability and affordability. At the same time, we’re making a huge effort to introduce new technologies and systems that instill quality across the entire filter supply chain, from start to finish, creating better value for BWMS manufacturers, as well as ship owners and operators.”

 

Commenting on Filtersafe’s decision to use 904L grade stainless steel to produce its filter screens, Marcie Merksamer, Vice President at EnviroManagement, Inc, said: “Filtersafe’s switch from 316L grade stainless steel to 904L is a step-change for the maritime industry. The move will not only increase the longevity of Filtersafe’s filters but also minimize maintenance and increase the run-time of ballast water treatment systems (BWTS). This, in turn, improves OPEX for both BWTS manufacturers as well as shipowners, as there will be less potential for system failures.

 

“Filtersafe’s investment in developing and improving technology demonstrates the company’s commitment to providing quality BWTS filters. With the implementation phase of ballast water regulations underway, shipowners need confidence their systems are meeting the requirements. New innovations, including the introduction of 904L steel, will play a key role in supporting compliance. With more data available to measure and drive progress, ongoing ballast water treatment research and development is more essential than ever.”

 

Following the introduction of the 904L steel and supporting technology at Filtersafe’s manufacturing facilities, the company is working on an industry outreach program that will see it work with BWTS manufacturers to assess the performance of filters currently in operation. Filtersafe intends to extract lessons learned and share them with others in a further bid to increase standards across the industry. The industry outreach program is underway now and is set to accelerate once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and international travel mobility improves.

 

 

How Does Filtration Purify Water: Filtration processes across the spectrum

Membrane Filtration Spectrum Infographic

Clean water is essential for all living things. Humans, animals, and plants all need clean water to live — which is why water filtration is a massive industry today. Whether you’re watering crops on a large farm, pumping ballast water at a foreign port, or simply getting a glass of water from your refrigerator, you are likely to be using water that’s gone through some form of filtration.

As the name suggests, filtration “filters out” harmful substances from our water, making it debris-free and usable in commercial systems. But how exactly does this process work? The answer depends on the type of filtration system you use.

Why Water Filtration Matters

Before we can discuss how filtration purifies our water, it is first important to understand why we filter water at all. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), water is a “universal solvent” — in other words, it can easily dissolve a great number of other substances.

While water solvency makes it an effective cleaning tool, it also makes it easy for contaminants to combine with the water itself. Debris, bacteria, and microorganisms can make themselves at home, and this can cause real harm to plants and animals who are exposed to contaminated water.

Membrane Filtration Spectrum Infographic
This membrane filtration spectrum chart shows the process of separation for various materials at increasingly smaller sizes.

Filters are necessary to protect your system from any debris or other contaminants in your water. If particles manage to get into a system, the equipment can suffer from buildup, clogging, and a host of other issues that can shorten the lifespan of the machines. In fact, these risks are so great that many organizations also implement a prefiltration stage. Systems that use ultrafiltration, for example, often use prefiltration to keep out larger particles and protect their primary filter from clogs or other damage.

For people working in industries like agriculture, water treatment, desalination, and much more, having clean water is vital to keeping your customers healthy and your business thriving. Therefore, these industries must rely on filtration to keep their water in safe and healthy conditions.

How Filtration Helps

Simply put, filtration removes the impurities from water, nearly eliminating the risk from any debris or particles that might have been present. This results in filtered water that is cleaner and purer than in its original state, making it safe for use in ballast tanks, industrial systems, and much more.

Filtered water can help prevent contamination of other things. For example, farmers use filtered water to prevent chemicals or bacteria from changing the pH levels in their soil. pH balance is a key component in growing various crops, and therefore farmers cannot have unexpected contaminants changing their soil composition.

Similarly, filtration is necessary for cargo ships that plan to dump ballast water at their next port. The ocean is a wide and varied ecosystem, and microorganisms from one area could drastically alter the ecosystem in another place. Filtering ballast water before dumping it at a port will prevent animals or bacteria from entering a new part of the ocean and drastically altering its biodiversity.

Ultimately, any industry that uses water to run their business can benefit from filtering their water before use. Investing in filtration will result in cleaner and safer water for everyone.

How Filtration Works

Water filtration has been a part of society since 500 B.C.E. when the Greek scientist Hippocrates developed a cloth filter for purifying water. Since that time, humans have developed and tested countless filtration methods for their water, from boiling it under the hot sun to using charcoal to chlorine to kill microorganisms.

But how does filtration work today? Some of the earliest filtration methods (like charcoal filters) are still used in some capacity. However, modern technology has opened the door to a wide range of different filtration methods. The most common filtration systems are:

  • Particle Filtration (two types are discussed below)
  • Membrane Filtration
  • Reverse Osmosis

Particle Filters

Screen Filters

One of the most common types of water filtration system is a screen-based filter. The vast majority of all commercial and industrial filtration systems first start with a screen to filter out as much suspended material as possible, before heading to treatment or use.UF and RO pre filtration

Screen filters use a mesh screen (usually made from polyester or stainless steel) to trap dirt, sediment, and other debris that might be in the water.

Screen filters were one of the earliest filtration tools developed by mankind, and they remain a highly effective method for purifying water even today. However, it is important to note that screen filters have one major drawback: they’re a flat, 2-D system. The standard screen filter doesn’t have any depth, and that means that the screen can become clogged very easily. Many get around this issue by regularly cleaning the filter – either by removing and cleaning it routinely or by using a self-cleaning system that removes debris automatically and keeps the screen fully functional throughout its life cycle.

There are different levels of screen filters that use varying sizes of mesh, which allows you to determine how many particles your filter captures. Additionally, some manufacturers, including Filtersafe, have created multi-layered screens, which capture a greater number of contaminants as the water moves through them. These tools make removing sediment, sand, and microorganisms a quick and painless process, thereby making it easier to have clean and pure water for your business.

Candle Filters

Candle filters are another approach for removing fine particles.

Also known as backwashing tubular filters, candle filters are not automatic like many screen filters are, instead of using gravity to produce clean water. Named for its candle-like shape, this filtration system uses a filter cartridge (which is usually made from ceramic or a fine sieve) to filter particles out of the water as it runs through the filter. This system can be an effective way to eliminate sediment, bacteria, and other particles from your water, though most industrial users prefer automatic filtration systems.

Membrane filtration: Micro-, Ultra-, and Nanofiltration

When filtration needs to be done to a much finer degree than particle filters can manage (below 10 microns), membrane filters are the solution (though screen filters are the first step for filtering water, before they pass through membranes). This means that the system uses hydrostatic pressure to force water through a membrane; as the water passes through, any particles or contaminants in the water become trapped, resulting in pure filtered water.

There are three main types of membranous filtration: microfiltration, ultrafiltration, and nanofiltration. While these three types use the same process to filter water, they differ in the size of particles they can trap. The key difference is the size of the pores in each membrane:

  • Microfiltration membranes have a pore size of around 0.1 microns, which means it can catch particles, but not dissolved substances. Microfiltration (MF) membranes developed specifically to solve complex process challenges such as microbial removal, protein fractionation, and pretreatment to other membrane processes. Microfiltration membranes have the most open pore sizes of all polymeric membranes. With a pore size range of 0.1 to 10μm, microfiltration membranes are capable of separating large suspended solids such as colloids, particulates, fat, and bacteria, while allowing sugars, proteins, salts, and low molecular weight molecules pass through the membrane.
  • Ultrafiltration membranes have a pore size of around 0.01 micron, which means it can catch smaller particles and smaller contaminants such as viruses. However, ultrafiltration cannot trap dissolved substances.
  • Nanofiltration membranes have a pore size of 0.001 microns. As one of the smallest pore sizes available (only reverse osmosis membranes are smaller), this filtration type can trap virtually all organic matter, multi-valent salts, and other particles in the water. In addition, nanofiltration membranes are capable of rejecting multivalent salts and larger molecules, while selectively rejecting varying amounts of monovalent salts.

 

Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filters

The term “osmosis” refers to the phenomenon of a solvent (like water) passing through a semipermeable membrane into a solute or dissolvable substance. When this happens, the water will dissolve and “pick up” some of the solute molecules, resulting in a water-and-solute mixture that is equally concentrated on either side of the membrane.

Reverse osmosis, as the name suggests, reverses this phenomenon – removing particles from a water source through the use of a membrane. This type of filer is most commonly used for desalination in conjunction with a media filtration or ultrafiltration system as a prefilter.

In reverse osmosis, the semipermeable membrane (which is most commonly made of cellulose acetate) does not allow the water to dissolve the solute; instead, it acts as a barrier that keeps material such as minerals or microorganisms from passing through the filtration system. Through this method, you can get purified water that is debris free.

Compared to traditional filtration technologies that rely on a screen or filter to remove particles, reverse osmosis (RO) is a pressure-driven separation process that employs a semipermeable membrane and the principles of crossflow filtration.

Reverse osmosis water treatment provides the finest level of filtration. The RO membrane acts as a barrier to all salts and inorganic molecules, as well as organic molecules with a molecular weight greater than approximately 100 Da (Daltons). It is therefore a highly effective process for removing contaminants such as:

  • Endotoxins/pyrogens.
  • Insecticides/pesticides.
  • Herbicides.
  • Antibiotics.
  • Nitrates.
  • Sugars.
  • Soluble salts.
  • Metal ions.

Get the Best Filtration System for Your Needs

There are a variety of water filtration systems available today, and they each serve a unique purpose. Whether you are purifying water for a water treatment plant, to nourish your crops, or for any other industrial purposes, it is critical to have the right tools at your disposal to do your work effectively – and that means finding the right filtration system for your needs.

And no matter which filtration technology you use for your system, you will need a prefiltration screen to protect and increase your system’s lifespan. A simple prefiltration system will prevent excess wear and tear on your machinery and save you in maintenance costs! Filtersafe has over 30 years of experience in advising and supplying the best system for your needs, helping you protect your systems and reduce costs and downtime. Contact us today to learn how our team can help your facility get cleaner, better water.

Preparing Your Ballast Water Treatment System Installation To Avoid Non-Compliance

ballast water compliant

The following article is a summary of Mark Riggio’s participation in a discussion on the topic from BWMTech 2020. You can see the summary of his discussion on best practices for ballast treatment system operators and ship owners here.

The filter is the keystone of the entire Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) and therefore the linchpin for the system’s success. However, the installation of a BWTS is almost always an afterthought when it comes to a ship’s design or retrofit. The smallest thing can create a barrier to proper installation, such as where a pipe is laid, so it is very important to look at the BWTS installation as far in advance as possible to prevent or remove barriers to its success.

The Source of the Problem: Installation

To provide the right filter for a ship there are many questions that need to be answered: how many tanks the ship has, their volume, power required to run the pumps, etc., However, the BWTS is typically an afterthought and something shipowners look to place on their vessels simply to meet regulations. 

If there are issues during commissioning or testing of the Ballast Water Treatment System, typically, it is because the filter was installed incorrectly, hindering its functionality. Less frequently it is due to a fundamental issue with the filter itself, and its ability to clean itself.

Recognizing the problem begins with installation, Filtersafe brought Mark in specifically because of his experience in the BWTS industry. His level of expertise and engineering knowledge in the filtration space is an asset in Filtersafe’s plan to get more guidance into customers’ hands to make sure that filters are installed properly.

Apathy Towards Non- Compliance

Compliance is a major issue, and it is a learning curve for ship owners. There needs to be buy-in from everyone involved throughout the process to ensure that the BWTS is installed properly and that compliance will be achieved.

At this point, there isn’t usually buy-in at every level because the BWTS isn’t perceived as a priority. Shipping vessels were never designed to have a water treatment plant onboard, and operators have many other things on their to-do list that are critical to the vessel’s functionality. This tension leads to the problem of how a well designed and built BWTS can end up being problematic, or not working, once it is onboard. Industries that utilize similar technology, such as drinking water treatment plants, have dozens of people operating machinery that on a boat one person is responsible for. Plus, they have much more space!

Mark shares an anecdote that is typical for onboard problems with BWTS:

During shipboard testing at a previous position, there were problems with very large organisms coming out of our discharge water that was being sampled to ensure compliance. They could not have passed through the BWTS filter, yet they were coming out of the discharge water in one port. He did some analytics and long story short, water from overboard was being allowed back through the sample port so they were sampling ocean water and not the treated water. At this point, he went and spoke with the crew to see if he could understand why this was happening. It turns out when the BWTS was in use it was setting off an alarm, which was annoying the ship workers. They discovered if they throttled the system and decreased the inlet pressure, the alarm would not bother them, but this allowed seawater to make its way up from the overboard to the sample port.

Crews know how to make systems work. Sometimes, though, what they do has unintended consequences. With this information, Mark looked to solve the nuisance alarm issue, which was easily accomplished. The core problem with the system, though was much more difficult to address because the vessel had no check valve on the outlet from the BWMS.. Despite the fact that the check valve was supposed to be there all along and was indicated on the drawings, the installer and even the commissioning engineer had failed to notice it was not actually installed. Little things that are on a drawing that does not get followed up on during installation can cause problems down the line.

Education About Environmental Impacts and Benefits

The general apathy towards proper installation occurs largely because no one is educating ship operators and installers about the environmental impacts the system has. If the staff responsible for the system’s success do not understand the benefits, they’ll lack the motivation to ensure that the is installed properly, and you’re likely to run into one of the problems previously mentioned.

On top of this, often BWTS are purchased based on price and nothing else. It can be a hard sell to a client to explain why your system is even 5% more than a competitor – but it works so much better. Purchasers are not thinking about the implications down the line if the system doesn’t work properly, they are just focused on the here and now, which is the price. Again, education can do a lot to remove that apathy. We need to explain that they are buying something not just to meet requirements, but to protect the estuaries, seas, and oceans so they can go fishing with their kids and grandkids.

As we are getting closer and closer to the mandatory installation date, there is less resistance from those on the ship about taking responsibility for making sure the system is working on board, but we cannot let that prevent us from continuing to focus on education.

Best Practices for Ballast Water Treatment System Manufacturers and Ship Owners

Best Practices for BWMS

The following article is a summary of Mark Riggio’s participation in a discussion on the topic from BWMTech 2020. You can see the summary of his discussion on ensuring the proper installation of your BWTS here.

The Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) is incredibly important, but at the end of the day, it is at best tangential to the functioning of the vessel itself. It’s important for the BWTS manufacturers to have a comprehensive and readable manual and ballast water management plan.

The BWTS Operations Management System (OMS) is the bible for onboard ship maintenance. Mark likes to joke that the ballast water management plan in the OMS is good creative fiction – that is, the manufacturer needs to create the fiction of what could go wrong and then decide what you can do to address that. It is very important not to put a lot of text that no one will read but practical advice as to how to address actual problems – addressing poor water conditions, component maintenance and repairs, operating outside the design limitations, etc.. The key challenge is to communicate this information in a way that the reader will be able to understand and implement while at the same time ensuring that the installer and shipyard owner have all the information they need to install the system in the best way possible.

Feedback from Shipowners: The Good and the Bad

Manufacturers do not get sufficient feedback about their systems’ operation. As manufacturers, we hear every day about the 20% of our systems that have problems, yet we don’t hear from the other 80% which are working great, or perhaps even better than anticipated. Since Mark joined Filtersafe, the company has been reaching out to customers who don’t have problems to understand why it’s going well. It could be simply that the system was installed properly and they are following the OMS, or it could be they’ve found hacks for how to operate the system in difficult situations. We are encouraging this type of feedback across the industry.

We as an industry need to be bigger than a loose collection of competitors. We have a unique opportunity during the experience-building phase to ‘fail’ – but to learn from what is going on. We just want to work together as a partner and help improve systems, make better systems so that crews can use them better and we can learn from the crew’s experience to make it easier for them and decrease the impact these systems will have on shipping. Shipowners want a black box to make the problem go away, and we will continue to reach out to ship owners to get that feedback so we can arrive at a combined solution.

Placing the Blame for Problems

There is tension between the ship owners and the manufacturers as to who is responsible if there is a problem. On the one hand, the shipowner needs to make sure the system is installed properly, on the other hand, the manufacturer is the one who knows how it is supposed to be installed. If there is a problem, who is to blame?

Installing the BWTS is just one aspect of hundreds of other jobs happening on a ship during a shipyard period and the installation does not usually get the attention and treatment it deserves. The manufacturer cannot always be there for the entirety of the installation, and while they aren’t there, decisions can be made that have a fatal consequence to the system’s functionality. At the time in the shipyard, the decisions made don’t seem like they will cause a problem later on – obviously, otherwise they wouldn’t decide as such. Ultimately, a seemingly small decision such as changing a pipe placement can turn out to be a fatal flaw in the operation of the BWTS. It’s really important that the shipyard employees have the right education so they care about the proper functioning of the BWTS and not just finding ways to cut corners and save money on installation.

Mentality and Compliance

Part of the issue is that operators have not yet had to deal with widespread compliance testing. This has meant that
industry best practice became to do the best you can, and that’s good enough.

There needs to be a new culture in place of not relying on ‘good enough’. It’s not as if you can just open your BWTS and look at the screen and see if it’s still functioning at its peak with just a visual inspection, you need to test. The problem is ship owners are hesitant to check their system to see if they have a compliance issue. They don’t want to know if their ships aren’t filtering properly because then it creates a record of non-compliance.

At the same time, the US Coast Guard would rather a ship owner test and see that they aren’t complying and continue operating on a contingency measure while trying to solve the problem. If the shipowner is documenting that he is trying to solve the problem he’ll be in better shape than if a compliance officer happens to board his ship and discover he’s non-compliant. As an industry, we have to encourage ship owners to switch to indicative testing to preemptively find a problem, rather than waiting for them to be tested and discover it. The shipowner thinks he may be saving time on testing, but at the end of the day, it’s the environment that is suffering.

Looking Towards The Future: Bottlenecks and Orders

The session ended with a discussion about ramping up production post-COVID and the anticipated bottlenecks in production and manpower for installations.
The culpability in delays gets blamed on manufacturers, but part of that problem is with forecasting and shipowners not being transparent about their own installation plans and timelines. BWTS manufacturers have had inventory building up because shipowners weren’t buying at the rate anticipated. This caused a ripple effect across industries and supply chains – since manufacturers weren’t buying parts the way they previously had, inventory was also building up at suppliers, and a number of them went out of business because they couldn’t weather the economic slowdown. Filtersafe is working to bring production of some parts in-house so that they have more control over this aspect, but it still doesn’t solve the problem. Looking at Clarkson’s data vs IMO for installations in 2020, only about 60% of shipowners installed BWTS that said they would. Where are those vessels that didn’t install and when are they going to come in and put in their orders?

At the same time, the supply chain issue isn’t just a result of COVID-19. There have been issues supply chain issues since the beginning, causing EPCs and shipyard owners to be wary of working with companies they didn’t think would be able to deliver after-sales service and support.

Filtersafe has worked to disperse the risk by creating regional supply chains. They have a manufacturing center in Israel and Hong Kong so they draw from both of those areas. Also, as they’ve seen small companies go out of business, they started to bring some aspects of small part manufacturing in house. At the end of the day, these steps will only go so far if shipowners aren’t more transparent about their true plans for installation in the coming years.

What Is Ballast Water Treatment?

types of ballast water treatment infographic

Individuals in the shipping industry carry great responsibility each time they leave port. Firstly, they have a responsibility in carrying out their duties, transporting cargo, and delivering goods for clients across the globe. Completing this task is essential — and it requires each part of every ship to be in perfect working order. Secondly, shipping companies must consider the ecological impact of their transport vessels. Global shipping channels have connected humanity at an unprecedented scale, but it is also put the various ecosystems around the world at risk. This is due to microorganisms that travel in the ship’s ballast water and can contaminate or invade the marine ecology of a new region, causing untold damage to the area.

In response to these ecological risks, the International Marine Organization (IMO) adopted the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments in 2004. This Convention aimed to halt the spread of invasive aquatic species by implementing requirements on the shipping industry to treat their ballast water.

A high-quality ballast water management system is critical for the success of any shipping business. But how do these systems work, and how do they add value to your ships? This article will discuss the immense impact that ballast water treatment can have on your business.

Why Do You Need Ballast Water Treatment?

The aim of ballast water treatment is the elimination of invasive marine species. The USDA reports that ballast water is “one of the major pathways for the introduction of non-indigenous marine species.”

When ships release ballast water at a new port-of-call, they risk introducing alien species, from small fish to microorganisms, into the water around the new area. This can result in a variety of harmful effects; the European Maritime Safety Agency credit invasive marine species with microbial exposure, lower habitat quality, and other dangers that can ultimately harm fishing and even protected species in the region.

To prevent these damaging effects, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO and USCG) require all ships to “undertake comprehensive actions in order to prevent, reduce and, if possible, eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships’ ballast water and sediments.” This includes meeting the requirements of either Ballast Water Management D-1, a regulation that requires any ship performing ballast water exchange to do so with an efficiency of 95% ballast water, or Ballast Water Management D-2, a regulation that sets a maximum concentration of microorganisms in discharged ballast water. The standards for regulation D-2 are:

  • < 10 viable cells per m3 for plankton smaller than 50 μm
  • < 10 viable cells per mL for plankton between 10-50 μm
  • < 10 Colony Forming Unit per 100 mL for Toxicogenic Vibrio Cholerae
  • < 250 Colony Forming Unit per 100 mL for Escherichia Coli
  • < 100 Colony Forming Unit per 100 mL for Intestinal Enterococci

A properly designed BWMS will meet these standards automatically, eliminating the shipping operator’s need to worry about these regulations.

How Ballast Water Treatment Works

It should be noted that the majority of BWTS use a combination of filtration and a secondary, disinfection stage for treatment.

Chemical Disinfection

Many BWMS utilize biocides as their disinfection stage. Biocides, which in BWMS typically use chlorine as an  oxidizing disinfectants inactivates microorganisms in the ballast water. The main drawback of biocides, which are used in about half of all systems, is that the treated water may still need to be neutralized or detoxified before its final deballasting.

U.V. Treatment

Some ballast water treatment systems use ultraviolet lamps. As the ballast water passes through chambers that contain the lamps, the ultraviolet light impacts the DNA of the organisms and renders them non-viable, or incapable of reproduction. This effectively eliminates the threat of microorganisms from thriving in the water and prevents them from becoming a burden on the ecosystem where they are released. However, UV can be affected by waters with low TSS (total suspended solids), and its success depends largely on the quality of the filtration system that precedes the treatment.

Deoxygenation

Like biocides, deoxygenation kills any living organisms in the ballast water. The ballast water treatment system injects an inert gas (such as nitrogen) into the tank or the ballast flow to asphyxiate the organisms. This system can be effective, but it is important to note that this process takes two to four days and requires the tanks to be sealed against atmospheric oxygen. Deoxygenation is not recommended for short transits.

Heat Treatment

As the name suggests, heat treatment involves heating ballast water until it kills any organisms in the water. There are two main ways to complete this method: heating the ballast water in their tanks or heating the water by running it past the ship’s engines (effectively turning it into cooling water). Heat treatment will disinfect the ballast water and make it suitable for release, but this can take a long time – and the heat can cause greater corrosion in the ballast water tanks.

Ultrasonic Treatment

Ultrasonic treatment (also called cavitation treatment) uses high energy ultrasound to eliminate organisms in the ballast water. The high pressure caused by the ultrasound ultimately breaks down organisms’ cell walls, killing them. Ultrasonic treatment is an attractive choice because it is low maintenance and non-chemical; however, research indicates that this ballast water treatment system works best in conjunction with other treatment methods like U.V. or biocides.

Almost every ballast water treatment system uses a water filter in conjunction with another method, such as the ones discussed above. The right water filter serves several practical and economic purposes in the BWTS. First, it is an effective way to remove sediment that can be taken in at turbulent ports and if not properly removed, can collect in the ballast tanks. Additionally, a filter can remove a large portion of the microorganisms that we have already discussed. This reduces the time and energy needed to neutralize the organisms that make their way through the filter and need to be treated before the water they reside in can be stored onboard or dumped.

Your Ballast Water Treatment System

The type of ballast water treatment system your ship needs will vary based on size, available space, budget, and more. However, it is almost certain that your ship (any ship, for that matter) will benefit from a ballast water treatment system that incorporates a Filtersafe filter.

Filtersafe offers specialized solutions that perfectly compliment every ballast water treatment system. Firstly, our patented filtration screen does not only keep out most zooplankton, phytoplankton, and sediment from entering the ballast water tanks. Since the screens have proven filtration capabilities down to 25 microns, the effluent water needs less secondary treatments to sterilize the water, saving BWTS owners money through lower power consumption and use of disinfection chemicals.

Next, all E-Series ballast water filters are capable of being installed horizontally or vertically and rotated to any position, even after the filter has been delivered to the vessel. This flexible modular design allows Filtersafe to build and ship their filters faster than any other company in the market.

Lastly, the various different models of filters have been optimized to handle low or high water flows, so whether you have a large oil tanker with cavernous ballast tanks, or a simple cargo ship on short, coastal voyages, you can turn to Filtersafe to provide filters for all of the vessels in your shipyard.

Filtersafe has been an industry innovator for ballast water treatment systems for over 15 years – and today, our products filter about 25% of the world’s ballast water. To learn more about our ballast water treatment systems (or to find a filtration system that suits your ships), contact our team of specialists today.

New Executive For Filtersafe Marine Division

Mark Riggio

Filtersafe Proudly Announces New Head of Marine, Mr. Mark Riggio 

Filtersafe today announced that Mr. Mark Riggio will be joining the company as the Head of the Marine Division, effective the 3rd of August. Mark will be leaving Hyde Marine, where he was the Senior Market Manager for over 9 years.

Mark brings with him to his new role his vast experience in the maritime industry, which will only serve to benefit the continued growth of Filtersafe’s efforts as a marine filtration expert and marine equipment supplier. His perspective on the maritime industry is unique, and one that few others can offer, as he has voyaged through the three distinct and critical parts of the maritime landscape: Classification, Port & Fleet Management, & BWTS Designer and Manufacturer. He brings a wealth of knowledge to his position at Filtersafe including:

  • A rigorous understanding of the standards involved in the marine industry from his time as a Senior Surveyor at the American Bureau of Shipping, where he oversaw hundreds of surveys and equipment installations stretching over four continents, and co-wrote the book on the ballast water regulations.
  • A deep insight into the needs of the most important stakeholder in this industry – the fleet owners/managers. The 6 years spent as a Port Engineer and Fleet Manager put him in the same waters as the end clients that he now works with.
  • Comprehensive view and experience of the ballast water industry from inside a market juggernaut, Hyde Marine, where he was the Senior Market Manager for over 9 years.

Filtersafe is thrilled to have a marine industry icon like Mark join the company in his new Senior Executive role. “I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity,” says Mark. “Filtersafe is poised not only to be the dominant player in the ballast water filtration market but they also have the personnel and product portfolio to tackle the broad range of challenges that ships face with contaminants in their process waters. Ballast water treatment is only the leading edge of this opportunity.”

“With Mark joining Filtersafe’s leadership team, we are reinforcing our commitment to deliver quality products and services to not only the BWT segment but the wider Marine industry,” says Miyan Mears-Dagan, COO at Filtersafe. “We have full confidence in Mark and his unique qualities to bring us to new heights.”  

 

About Filtersafe: A leader in the Ballast water filtration industry, that specializes in high capacity filtration. Filtersafe boasts over 3000 successful installations of its systems in a wide range of vessels. Filtersafe brings unrivaled value, effectiveness, and durability to even the most demanding filtration solutions.