Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Treating ships’ ballast water: filtration preferable to disinfection

30.07.2015

Untreated ballast water discharge from ships can spread living organisms and even pathogens across the world thereby introducing non-native or invasive species into the local environment. Scientists at Helmholtz Zentrum München therefore recommend using physical treatment processes such as filtration rather than electrochemical disinfection, which creates countless potentially toxic compounds. These are the findings of a recent study published in the journal ‘Environmental Science and Technology’.

In order to prevent the transfer of harmful organisms, ships’ ballast water is often subjected to electrochemical disinfection.* “However, our analyses show that electrochemical disinfection creates numerous so-called disinfection by-products (DBPs),” explains Prof. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, who led the study.


The disinfection of ballast water generates a multitude of by-products.

Source: Evren Kalinbacak / Fotolia

He and his team at the Analytical BioGeoChemistry (BGC) research unit at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, working in close collaboration with colleagues in the US, compared samples of treated and untreated ballast water. Using high-resolution mass spectrometry, they discovered that treatment led to the formation of 450 new, diverse compounds, some of which had not previously been described as disinfection products or been structurally categorized.

Using alternative methods

“Until the toxicological features of these compounds are fully clarified, we recommend a cautious approach to disinfecting ballast water,” Schmitt-Kopplin notes. According to the scientists, the study – the first in-depth analysis of DBPs in ballast water – first and foremost revealed the high degree of complexity of the resulting products. As an alternative, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin recommends the use of physical processes such as filtration or adsorption.**

Growing significance due to global trade

In addition, the Helmholtz researchers point out the broader significance of their findings: as a result of the increasing dissemination of goods around the world, a growing number of ever-larger ships are being used.

These vessels take on correspondingly large and increasing amounts of ballast water in order to stabilize their position in the water and to balance out any changes in the weight of goods or fuel during the journey. Experts worldwide are now discussing ways of dealing with this water, as discharging untreated ballast water will be prohibited in the future. The alternative method of choice at present is electrochemical disinfection.

“Large volumes of disinfected ballast water are distributed daily in coastal waters, but as yet their impact on the environment cannot be foreseen,” says first author Michael Gonsior of the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science. “In future studies, we want to find out what influence the DPSs have on coastal ecosystems.” Now the researchers hope that their data will help to shift the focus more towards alternative methods.


Further information:

Background:
*During electrochemical disinfection, electricity is used to generate chemically active components directly by means of electrolysis, i.e. by passing an electric current through it.

**Another study related to human health of the team of Prof. Schmitt-Kopplin revealed similar processes in drinking water: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25322143

Original publication:
Gonsior, M. et al. (2015). Bromination of Marine Dissolved Organic Matter Following Full Scale Electrochemical Ballast Water Disinfection. Environmental Science & Technology, DOI : 10.1021/acs.est.5b01474

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,300 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. Helmholtz Zentrum München is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members.

The independent Analytical BioGeoChemistry Research Unit (BGC) investigates molecular interactions among substances in biogeosystems. Together with separation procedures and mathematical methods, high-resolution methods of organic structural characterization allow a precise space and time-resolved analysis. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of molecular processes in ecosystems and to improve the identification of biomarkers in organisms. The BGC is a part of the Department of Environmental Sciences.

Contact for the media:
Department of Communication, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Phone: +49 89 3187 2238 - Fax: +49 89 3187 3324 – E-mail: presse@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Scientific contact at Helmholtz Zentrum München:
Prof. Dr. Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH), Analytical BioGeoChemistry Research Unit, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Tel. +49 89 3187 3246 - E-mail: schmitt-kopplin@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Weitere Informationen:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b01474 - Link to the publication
http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/aktuelles/pressemitteilungen/2015/index.html - Press releases Helmholtz Zentrum München
http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/en/research-unit-analytical-biogeochemistry/ind... - Research Unit Analytical BioGeoChemistry

Kommunikation | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>