Across the world, oil tankers, floating oil production platforms, and cargo ships are in transit in international waters. Physical methods are used to clean organisms and microbes from the ships' ballast water. Explosion protection plays a pivotal role on board, whether it is to protect the ships’ pumps from the proximity of the cleaning systems, or due to a potentially hazardous environment created by the ship's cargo. Pepperl+Fuchs has developed customized solutions for this purpose, delivering the perfect combination of purge and pressurization along with a ballast water treatment system.
On their journey across the world's oceans, tankers and cargo ships use ballast water for stability. The ballast water is changed at regular intervals during loading and unloading, and it washes up at coastal regions all over the world. Organisms that do not naturally occur at the destination ports are carried along with the ballast water. These "stowaways" can upset the balance of the local ecosystem. Environmental damage can occur as a result of threats to native species or health risks from bacteria.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) defined rules for ballast water management in a convention adopted in 2004. Each ship must document its ballast water exchanges in accordance with the full requirements of the convention. In principle, there are two methods: One is to change the water at high sea. However, this technique is usually restricted due to weather influences, ship routes, or the design of the ship itself. Another method is to perform ballast water treatment processes on-board using mechanical, physical, or chemical methods.
Filtering the ballast water and treating it with high concentrations of UV light to kill organisms and microbes is an environmentally friendly method. An appropriate system with a UV reactor is installed, usually in the central pump room. This room is classified as a hazardous area in oil tankers, floating oil production platforms, and ships carrying combustible materials. High voltages are needed to operate the UV reactor, Pepperl+Fuchs has developed a certified solution that combines a purge and pressurization system with other explosion protection equipment. This certified solution creates safe environments to operate high-voltage electrical equipment.
The central component of the solution is a purge and pressurization system. The purge and pressurization system from the Bebco EPS® 6000 series product range protects the electronic components in the reactor and the UV lights. To do this, the system automatically establishes the necessary overpressure and monitors it continuously. By purging with an inert gas, any ignitable gases and vapors are reduced to a concentration that is no longer explosive.
The purge and pressurization system is supplemented by an explosion-protected junction box and control components. Pepperl+Fuchs offers pressure measurement sensors, fill level sensors, temperature measurement sensors, and K-System junction boxes for intrinsically safe signal transmission. This customized, internationally certified solution is ready for connection and comes in explosion-protected housing.
The combined solution—made up of a purge and pressurization system and an explosion-protected package solution—meets safety requirements and is certified for worldwide use. This is a major advantage, as the ships do not simply travel the globe—they also need to call at ports around the world, where they will undergo repair or maintenance work. The self-contained, automatic Ex system makes this the optimum solution for this specific application.
In its Solution Engineering Centers in the USA, Europe, and Asia, Pepperl+Fuchs develops customized system solutions for special applications in potentially explosive areas—solutions that are ready to use and come with certification. This offers many advantages, particularly for international projects. Every phase of the project, such as engineering, procurement, or design, can be managed around the world at the networked Solution Engineering Centers.