Coldharbour win international technical innovation award at the international Tanker Shipping and Trade Conference held in London in November


Coldharbour Marine of Linby North Nottinghamshire was presented with an international technical innovation award at the international Tanker Shipping and Trade Conference held in London in November. The Conference covered the commercial, technical and regulatory issues that lie at the heart of chemical, crude and product marine tanker operations worldwide. 


Coldharbour Marine’s award recognised its innovative approach to the design and manufacture of the only in-tank, in-voyage ballast water treatment (BWTS) system capable of handling the very large volumes of ballast water carried by tanker vessels.  Ballast water, which is vital to ships stability, is known to be the medium by which aquatic organisms are transplanted from one part of the world to another.  The movement of organisms can lead to the disruption of sensitive marine ecosystems by alien aquatic species – the marine equivalent of American grey squirrels coming into the UK -  and even poses a serious risk to human health from diseases such as cholera. The problem has been identified as one of the top three threats to the world’s oceans and in 2004 the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) took action to address the situation.


Rather than adapting existing technologies, Coldharbour Marine began the development work on their unique system with a 'customer insight' exercise. This enabled the company to identify the 3 most important characteristics an ideal BWTS would have, together with 12 secondary characteristics. These defined their product design brief. 


Once designed patented and tested, a prototype was submitted for IMO shore and marine based accreditation. Because, uniquely, the system operates in ballast tanks, during the voyage rather than during ballast uptake or discharge as all other technologies do, the assumptions made by regulators that underlay the accreditation processes were invalid and a new test protocol had to be developed. Testing was undertaken under the authority of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency and was overseen by Lloyds Register.   Full accreditation was achieved in 2015, 6 years after the project began.


The result is that tanker operators now have a system which is based around a technology that they are already familiar with (inert gas), which operates in voyage not at the terminal (saving time and cost)  and which avoids any risk of regrowth in the ballast tank after treatment, even on the longest voyages.  Three methods kill any organisms living in the ballast water- hypoxia, hypercapnia and ultrasonic cavitation.  The system is highly efficient and leaves no chemical residue, so is safe for use the world over.


In short, by focusing on the needs of its target market and by understanding early in the development process that “one size ballast water treatment technology” will not fit all, Coldharbour has innovated an optimal system for tanker and bulk carriers which would otherwise struggle to manage the very large volumes of ballast water and high pumping rates that are features of these kinds of vessels.   


Speaking on behalf of Coldharbour Marine, Chief Executive, Andrew Marshall said, “ This award is a testament to 6 years of thought, debate, problem solving and testing- frankly it is a recognition of the engineering excellence of the Coldharbour team.  The introduction of the IMO Ballast Water Management Regulations has encouraged us to start a major recruitment drive. We are expanding our business in the East Midlands and attracting expert engineers and scientists to our team. Our attitude to innovation has not stopped and we have other exciting projects in the pipeline.







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