BlueSeas Ballast Water Management System developed in the National University of Singapore set to enter the multi-billion dollar ballast water treatment market

05 September 2011

BlueSeas Ballast Water Management System developed in the National University of Singapore set to enter the multi-billion dollar ballast water treatment market

5 September, Singapore - Researchers from the National University of Singapore's (NUS) Faculty of Engineering have developed a new technology, approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which may soon be deployed on vessels that ply international shipping routes.

The BlueSeas Ballast Water Management System (BWMS) uses an innovative electrolytic treatment technology to disinfect ballast water that is taken on and discharged by ships to maintain their stability while loading or unloading cargo. When ships discharge ballast water, aquatic organisms from one environment are transferred to a new environment, which could be harmful to the biodiversity of the local marine ecosystem. To mitigate the unpredictable repercussions from alien species, the IMO requires all ships to install and use an onboard BWMS to treat discharged ballast water by 2016.

The research team, led by Dr J. Paul Chen from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NUS, set forth on developing a disinfection system that is both effective and environmentally-friendly. The BlueSeas BWMS was reviewed by the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection and awarded basic approval from IMO in July 2011. The first and currently only technology from Singapore to receive basic approval, the BlueSeas BWMS will be commercialised once final and type approvals are granted in the next few years.

The unique quality of the BlueSeas BWMS lies in its ability to treat ballast water using less space and energy compared to other BWMS in the market. Involving a number of processes over a period of 10 to 12 hours, the BlueSeas BWMS uses a patent-protected and highly cost-effective electrode and a series of supporting devices for the treatment of ballast water. With a smaller onboard footprint and lower energy consumption, the BlueSeas BWMS will appeal to ship-owners who are concerned with discharging high volumes of ballast water in a short period of time using a compact BWMS.

To commercialise and further develop the BlueSeas BWMS a NUS spin-off company was formed, which licensed the BlueSeas BWM system exclusively. This licensing was facilitated by the NUS Industry Liaison Office, which has also filed a patent (PCT application) in all major markets.

"The BlueSeas BWMS is an effective and environmentally-friendly solution for ballast water treatment and has numerous advantages over current BWMS available in the market. Our system consumes lower energy, is compact and easy to install, comparing well to other bulkier systems," said Dr J. Paul Chen, Associate Professor at NUS' Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

"We are very pleased to see researchers, like Dr Chen, who not only develop innovative new technologies, but who have the passion to bring their technology from the laboratory to the market. I believe this technology has the potential to make a significant international impact, helping to boost the shipping industry, as well as to protect the environment," said Ms Irene Cheong, Director NUS Industry Liaison Office, which is responsible for handling technology transfer and promoting industry collaborations for NUS.

The development of the BlueSeas BWMS was funded by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) through the Maritime Innovation & Technology (MINT) Fund, which supports research and development activities for the maritime industry. The BlueSeas BWMS will be tested on one of the APL ships later this year.

"As a responsible member of the international maritime community, Singapore will continue to drive research in clean technologies. BlueSeas BWMS is a good example of research efforts into clean and green shipping by the research community in Singapore. I encourage the maritime community in Singapore to further invest in research to meet the challenges ahead," said Mr Toh Ah Cheong, MPA's Director (Technology).

"As per IMO rule, BWMS needs to be fitted in all existing ships by 2016. It is indeed admirable that such a state of art research from the joint collaboration of MPA and NUS successfully achieved the IMO recognition and reached the stage of marketing the product in this emerging BWMS market. The shipping companies in Singapore and worldwide now will benefit from another choice to buy a BWMS from its competitive market", said Mr Alam Khorshed, Director, Engineering Research and Energy Management, APL Co Pte Ltd (NOL Group).

End of Release.

Jointly issued by the National University of Singapore and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

About the National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore's flagship university which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 15 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 36,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 21 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner for Singapore's 5th RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community. For more information, please visit

About NUS Enterprise
NUS Enterprise was established as a University-level cluster to provide an enterprise dimension to NUS teaching and research involving the University's students, staff and alumni. The functions of the Enterprise Cluster complement the academic cluster of the University to nurture talents with an entrepreneurial and global mindset. NUS Enterprise promotes the spirit of innovation and enterprise through Experiential Education, Industry Engagement & Partnerships and Entrepreneurship Support. The NUS Industry Liaison Office is a division of NUS Enterprise.

About the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) was established on 2 February 1996 with the mission to develop Singapore as a premier global hub port and international maritime centre (IMC), and to advance and safeguard Singapore's strategic maritime interests. MPA is the driving force behind Singapore's port and maritime development, taking on the roles of Port Authority, Port Regulator, Port Planner, IMC Champion, and National Maritime Representative. MPA partners the industry and other agencies to enhance safety, security and environmental protection in our port waters, facilitate port operations and growth, grow the cluster of maritime ancillary services, and promote maritime R&D and manpower development.

About APL
APL is a global container shipping business offering more than 60 weekly services with more than 500 calls at over 140 ports worldwide. It combines world-class intermodal operations with leading-edge IT and e-commerce. APL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singapore-based Neptune Orient Lines (NOL), a global transportation and logistics company engaged in shipping and related businesses.


1 The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations' specialised agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.
2 See Annex A for background information on ballast water management system as well as details on the BlueSeas BWMS mechanism
3 International Maritime Organization