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 Listening in: Acoustic monitoring devices detect illegal hunting and logging
14.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

nachricht How fires are changing the tundra’s face
12.12.2017 | Gesellschaft für Ökologie e.V.

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: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests

14.12.2017 | Health and Medicine

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>