Monitoring, rather than simply testing to prove compliance in port or during checkups, is important, as the ballast water tests performed by many groups have shown operator errors are a common source of failed ballast water compliance – a source which can be avoided. BallastWISE Inline is a hardware and software total solution being developed by MicroWISE for continuous automated analysis and reporting of ballast water compliance with IMO D-2 standards for organisms of large (≥50 µm) and small (10-50 µm) size fractions. This solution is tailored for installation on ships, monitoring the operationality of ballast water management systems (BWMS).

Late 2023, the prototype for BallastWISE Inline was tested by Control Union with great results. Development end results available in this report. Afterwards, this project was awarded 5,7 million DKK in funds by The Danish Environmental Technology (MUDP) to go from prototype testing to production-ready design.

Co-founders of MicroWISE, Nick Blackburn and Pia Haecky pose with the BallastWISE Inline prototype – Photo courtesy of Lars Aarø

The need for monitoring BWMS operationality

While the 2020 guidance for commissioning testing of BWMS only states that ballast water commissioning testing must be performed upon installation or upgrade of BWMS (BWM.2/Circ.70/Rev.1.), statistics collected over the past years suggest this is not enough to ensure compliance with the D-2 standards and halt the spread of invasive species (MEPC 78/4/1, MEPC 81/INF.6). Therefore, industry experts in the IMO’s ‘Correspondence Group on Review of the BWM Convention’ foresee the need for regular testing to ensure BWMS are meeting regulation D-2 in addition to commissioning. This group, of which MicroWISE CEO Pia Haecky is a member, is discussing the frequency and methods for regular testing to be performed by local port state authorities (MEPC 81/4/2 – point 15).

In countries like Germany, where ballast water compliance is taken very seriously, there have already been cases of vessels not permitted to deballast due to non-compliance with IMO discharge standards. It therefore is more cost-efficient to monitor the effectiveness of BWMS well before such situations occur – as this will help avoid both ship delays and the spread of invasive species,. BallastWISE Inline is one possible solution for this – as the goal is to provide an automated and practical way to continually validate the ship BWMS’s operational functionality.

BallastWISE Inline first prototype – you can see the filter and the different tubes carrying ballast water samples through the filtration, sampling and test processes automatically – Photo courtesy of Lars Aarø

How likely is BWMS non-compliance?

Failed ballast water compliance tests in port can likely be avoided by performing regular indicative testing of ballast water onboard the ship – helping alert the crew to any operational failures before they become a problem. Operational errors are avoidable, and yet are one of the causes frequently observed in non-compliant ballast water test results.

The IMO completed an experience building phase (2017-2021), which found that approximately a third of the 123 ballast water tests included in the study were non-compliant and in Australia, of 44 ballast water samples taken between 2021 to 2023, approximately a third of these were non-compliant (MEPC 81/INF.6). There are many possible factors leading to failed tests, and in 100 tests performed by Hauschildt Marine, the main source of failed tests was BWTS operator failure.

Curious about this solution?

BallastWISE Inline integrates all the software and hardware required for continuous, automated ballast water compliance testing onboard your vessel. The core technology of BallastWISE Inline is the BallastWISE patented method  of image tracking for direct counting of organisms, combined with the BallastWISE Filtration Unit and the optional cloud-based platform for data collection, analysis and reporting, BallastWISE Cloud.

Stay tuned for more updates about BallastWISE Inline by following MicroWISE or subscribing to our newsletter.

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