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Ballast is no longer ballast


As a ship loads ballast water taken from coastal ports, it also loads many of the organisms living in that port. The ballast water of shipping vessels has been a primary method of alien species introduction throughout the world. Scientists estimate that as many as 3,000 alien species per day are transported in ships around the world. The UN considers the introduction of nonindigenous oceanic species to be one of the top four serious threats to the global environment.

Since its foundation in 1994, Optimarin has focused on efficient solutions to clean ballast water. “At first, we had the idea to use the same technology we used for cleaning technical water to clean ballast water,” explains CEO Tore Andersen. “Mr. Halvor Nilsen finally developed a ballast water system, and in 2000 the first solution for commercial ballast treatment was installed on board the cruise ship Regal Princess.”

As the problem of invasive species in ships’ ballast water is due to expanded trade and traffic volumes and the problem may not yet have reached its peak, in 2004, the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) came up with strict regulations. As Optimarin’s former solutions did not meet those new requirements, the company constantly worked on its further development, and in 2009, it obtained the IMO type approval for the new system.

“Our products have been developed based on years of experience in the shipping, offshore and water treatment industries,” states Mr. Andersen. “As a result, they even exceed the IMO requirements. Furthermore, we operate according to ISO 9001/2008.”

Today, Optimarin has 32 employees, recorded a turnover of 12.5 million EUR in 2013 and has sold more than 300 systems. A market share of 10% demonstrates the leading market position at home and abroad. With companies in Japan and Germany, a representative office in China and an export rate of 90%, the family-owned company underlines its international market presence. Its ballast water treatment system is unique on the market.

“Our technology is based on filtration and UV,” explains Mr. Andersen. “We are the only company to use three different filters to choose from. They have a special UV reactor, and each UV reactor can handle 167 m3 of water. As they have only one UV lamp in each UV chamber, less maintenance is necessary. Another important aspect is that our system is one of the few treatment options that does not use or generate chemicals or biocides in its treatment or cleaning process. It is an environmentally sound, simple and, due to is modularity, flexible and easy-to-install product. We have always had the vision to have the most environmentally friendly water purification system in the world.”

This is not the only point which sets the system apart from the market. “We control the powers,” adds Mr. Andersen. “With very clean water, the UV sensor needs less power so the total consumption of power can be reduced. We have a long track record and experience. The system is really strong now and approved.”

Optimarin is full of optimism and ambition in terms of future perspectives. “More than 50,000 vessels will need the system,” points out Mr. Andersen. “Our aim is to distribute between 2,500 and 5,000 systems in the next years. Our whole team is focused on ballast water treatment. We can bank on highly qualified people and a strong research and development department, which is the guarantee for state-of-the-art-solutions for today and tomorrow.”

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