The exploration of ballast water treatment systems to reduce populations of invasive species

T. McMillen \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 17-22. Download PDF


Invasive species are being transported around the globe daily through the use of ballast tanks. Ships utilize ballast tanks to provide stability over long voyages across the ocean. The introduction of invasive species through ballast tanks is costing communities billions of dollars in damages and health related problems. Through this study, five tested systems of ballast water treatment were examined and their respective effectiveness were compared. Treatment methods included the use of hydrocyclones and UV systems, screens, crumb rubber filtration, deoxygenation tactics, and a continuous microwave system. Each of these systems attempted to remove the largest proportions of phytoplankton, zooplankton, and invertebrate larvae from the water source used. After comparing the effectiveness of each system, a continuous microwave unit proved to be the most viable option for ballast water treatment. This system can be used to successfully kill all potential organisms that are transported in a ballast tank in 200 seconds. The use of a microwave system heats the water to a temperature (55°C), where the organisms cannot survive, and effectively eliminates the threat they pose when they are released.