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Pre-assembled deckhouse solutions meet tanker challenges in ballast water treatment

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Today, most product tankers rely on submersible cargo pumps. This design eliminates the need for a pump room, maximising the tanker space available for cargo. However, the lack of pump room has posed a challenge for ships that need to install new equipment to meet ballast water treatment regulations. One solution is to install a plug-and-play system topside in a deckhouse. This simplifies design and retrofitting processes, while ensuring reliable compliance for tankers.

“Tankers are a special challenge when it comes to ballast water treatment,” says Vikas Laul, Technical Director at VSL Marine Technology, a 3D scanning and engineering company specialized in ballast water treatment systems. “There’s seldom enough space in a pump room, if there is one, which means the system must be placed on deck.”

It was precisely these reasons that led Alfa Laval to develop standard deckhouse solutions for its Alfa Laval PureBallast 3 Ex ballast water treatment systems. Each deckhouse is delivered as a pre-assembled solution, including the PureBallast 3 Ex system and all internal piping and wiring, for easy integration into the vessel. If needed, a booster pump unit can be integrated to ensure sufficient pressure without modifications to the existing ballast pumping system.

“Not only do PureBallast 3 deckhouses solve our engineering issues by providing a plug-and-play solution, they also reduce the work to be done by a shipyard,” Laul adds.

Compliance takes more than a container

Laul notes, however, that engineering a reliable ballast water treatment solution for most product tankers involves a lot more than just moving an existing system topside. “The deckhouse is tied to compliance, so it can’t be just a box on deck,” he explains. “It has to provide the right conditions for the system to do its job – whether the vessel is in the tropics or the North Sea.”

PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouses secure those conditions in a variety of ways. Far more than standard containers, they are constructed from durable marine-grade steel and installed on fixed rails. Moreover, they comprise insulation, heating and ventilation that keep the system temperature stable.

“A PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse is structurally designed for heavy sea loads, so it offers peace of mind for owners and crew when the vessel encounters rough weather,” says Laul. “With its strategically assembled internal equipment, it also makes troubleshooting and maintenance a very smooth process. More than a set of walls around the ballast water treatment system, the deckhouse is an integrated solution to the tanker’s needs.”

No pump modifications needed

For tankers whose existing pumps are insufficient to lift the ballast water to deck level, a PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse can even incorporate a purposed-designed booster pump unit (BPU). The BPU, which has been validated for tankers with Framo ballast pumps, ensures sufficient head for effective filter backflushing – which is generated by the ballast water treatment system itself. This avoids complex and time-consuming modifications to an already optimized ballast water pumping system.

“The fully equipped deckhouse can simply be hoisted onto the vessel and connected, without pump modifications or other major changes to the equipment on board,” says Laul. “It makes our job and the work at the shipyard easier.”

Just as easily as it can be connected, the PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse can also be disconnected if needed. Among other things, this flexibility could facilitate easier and faster service on shore. It could also, for example, allow the system to be moved from a scrapped vessel to a sister vessel with the same characteristics, providing a smart and more cost-effective installation.

Smooth projects and installations

VSL Marine Technology has so far engineered six PureBallast 3 Ex systems in deckhouses. Not only has the engineering itself been less complicated, the installation of those systems has been remarkably efficient. The most recent project, a 1500 m3/h system for an oil tanker, took only 24 days to install from start to finish.

“Getting systems onto tankers has become incredibly smooth,” says Laul. “The deckhouse quality and design match the high performance of PureBallast 3 as a whole. As always with Alfa Laval, customers are in good hands.”

Based on a well-proven ballast water treatment solution

The PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse solutions, like all PureBallast systems, are also based on technologies that have been proven to ensure compliant ballast water treatment performance on a huge range of vessel types. It was Alfa Laval that first pioneered the development of UV-based ballast water treatment applications. In fact, PureBallast was the world’s very first commercially available ballast water treatment system, launched originally in 2006.

Since then, more than 4,700 PureBallast systems have been sold. Hundreds of these have already been delivered and commissioned, including retrofit installations performed at a diverse variety of shipyards all around the world. In addition to tankers, PureBallast can now be found performing reliable ballast water treatment on container ships, bulk carriers, offshore supply vessels, naval vessels and more.

Of course, it is not only today’s performance that matters, but also certainty down the road. As a company with over 100 years of marine experience, Alfa Laval has demonstrated staying power and a considerable depth of expertise. Moreover, the company has shown an ability to stay ahead of the curve in ballast water treatment, having been among the first to achieve both IMO and U.S. Coast Guard type approvals. More recently, Alfa Laval was the first to receive IMO revised G8 type approval – well ahead of other suppliers and long before the new requirements’ entry into force.

Most importantly for product tankers operating throughout the world, Alfa Laval has a service network whose capabilities extend far beyond the ordinary. In contrast to the majority of suppliers in ballast water treatment, Alfa Laval’s service organization is active worldwide and accustomed to providing support in remote locations. With that in mind, the choice of PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse systems is a confident one an in industry where reliability is everything.

To learn more about Alfa Laval PureBallast technology and the PureBallast 3 Ex deckhouse solutions visit

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