FastBallast Portable Ballast Water Compliance Monitor

FastBallast Compliance Montior - capable of determining the compliance of treated ballast water at the IMO D2 & USCG Discharge Standards

Chelsea Technologies Group’s FastBallast Portable Ballast Water Compliance Monitor is capable of determining the phytoplankton cell density of ballast water at the IMO D2 & USCG Discharge Standards (10 to 50 um range). The Compliance Monitor is available as a portable dual function discrete and flow-through analysis system, solely as a portable discrete sampling system or as a fully integrated system for continual flow-through analysis.  


FastBallast is available in 3 separate solutions; a Discrete Sample Compliance Monitor, a Dual Function Compliance Monitor and as an Integrated Compliance Monitor. FastBallast’s cutting edge design enables such a rapid and detailed analysis that it is the only technology that can operate in flow-through mode, providing a continuous, real time update on discharge compliance. Therefore is can dramatically increase the volume of water analysed, producing a more representative sample.


Breaking News: BACTEST Ltd partners with Chelsea Technologies Group to add a test for phytoplankton to their new Speedy Breedy SeaSure treated ballast water compliancy monitor.

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Users & Advantages


  • Manufacturers of Ballast Water Treatment Systems
  • Ship Operators
  • Port State Control and other compliance officers
  • Analytical Laboratories
  • Filtration Manufacturers



  • Provides rapid, on board compliance testing to the D2 limit (10 - 50 um in the smallest dimension)
  • Detection limit of < 1 cell/mL
  • Size-independent measurement of cell density
  • Sampling issues associated with analysing small static volumes at close to the D2 threshold are overcome by using a larger stirred volume of 20 mL
  • Very low level of false negatives and negligible possibility of false positives
  • Wide dynamic range provides a high tolerance of background fluorescence (from dead cells, CDOM and other sources)
  • High level of turbidity rejection
  • No consumables or sample preparation required
  • Long service intervals (greater than two years)


A fundamental requirement for installed ballast water treatment systems is to provide analysis of the ballast water at the point of discharge to demonstrate satisfactory treatment. Using the inherent high sensitivity of FastBallast, the variable fluorescence from the live phytoplankton cells can be monitored in either discrete or moving ballast water to the levels required both by the IMO D2 and USCG discharge standards (10 to 50 um category).


FastBallast has been specifically designed to detect live phytoplankton in low concentrations that are found in the highly variable conditions of ballast water around the world. Not only does FastBallast use the most sensitive optical and detection components, but it also uses a totally unique algorithm that can actually distinguish the difference between cell sizes and any background fluorescence found in ambient water, which have been inherent problems of compliance monitoring until now. 


FastBallast has shown to be as accurate as microscopy, but with even more advantages. Microscopy is an expensive and subjective tool that requires small samples to be sent off to the limited number of specialised laboratories available. Having to wait for microscopy analysis will cause severe delays to ships and samples will easily be compromised during transit. FastBallast eliminates these uncertainties associated with laboratory analysis and provides a solution that will ultimately save huge costs for ship owners and port authorities.

How does it work?

Since photosynthesis is crucial to the survival of all phytoplankton species, being able to interrogate this process is a particularly effective method of determining if the organisms are alive or dead. Fluorescence technology uses light to excite plant cells so that we can see if they are photosynthesising. If a cell isn’t photosynthesising it is assumed dead.


The technology used in FastBallast is based on established active fluorescence measurement principles that we have employed in our marine products for over 20 years. We have further developed these principles and specifically applied them to the challenges of monitoring ballast water discharges. FastBallast interrogates the photosynthesis process that only takes place within living phytoplankton cells by using precise wavelengths and ultra-sensitive detection methods. Key advantages include the ability to distinguish between cells of different sizes and also background fluorescence, which can be caused by matter such as dead cells and Coloured Dissolved Organic Matter (CDOM), so it can therefore produce confident and accurate results in any water type.




Not only can FastBallast technology test discrete 20ml samples as a portable solution, but the high sensitivity enables flowing water to be analysed, to allow for a larger, more representative sample. The FastBallast technology is ideally suited to be part of a fully integrated system. It provides continual real time data on the operational performance of a treatment system. This ensures the treatment system is operated efficiently and enables ship owners to monitor compliancy and share this data with shore side.


This is the future for compliance monitoring of ballast water, so that ship owners and manufacturers can ensure Port State Control of complete compliance and ultimately save time in port.


FastBallast also has the capabilities of detecting phytoplankton cells <10 um, which include harmful cynobacteria species that are causing devastating impacts as an invasive species. Countries are already implementing more stringent regulations as we learn how much easier prevention is over eradication and FastBallast already has the capability to adhere to these stricter policies.



FastBallast is available in 3 separate solutions; a Discrete Sample Compliance Monitor, a Dual Function Compliance Monitor and as an Integrated Compliance Monitor.

The Discrete Sample Compliance Monitor 
  The Dual Function Compliance Monitor   The Integrated Compliance Monitor

This provides a fully automated and portable test suitable for rapid, on board spot check analyses, which has been designed for use by non-technical staff. A 20 ml sample is poured in to a chamber, using a cylinder provided, and within 4 minutes FastBallast will produce an accurate cell count. This is simply achieved by pressing ‘run test’ in the FabTest Application that is provided in the tough pad touch screen and results are displayed as a Pass/Fail at the D2 Level with an accurate cell count. No filtration steps are required. 


Data is logged internally and can be downloaded via USB or Ethernet enabling a report to be sent shore side ahead of inspection. The tough pad touch screen can also provide a more detailed assessment of the samples, providing graphical information, details on cell size distribution, ship name, test name, location, ballast tank tested, date and time stamp.


This has the same function as the Discrete Sample Compliance Monitor, but it is also capable of analysing flowing water.


FastBallast uses a precise array of LEDs and a highly sensitive photomultiplier tube (PMT), which allows for over 40 measurements a second to be made. This, combined with Chelsea’s totally unique algorithm, makes FastBallast the only technology available that can operate in flow-through mode, allowing for the analyses of much larger bodies of water.


This is designed for permanent installation on board a vessel, providing a continuous, real-time, update on discharge compliance on a touch screen display.


This solution can be integrated with vessel system and can be integrated with any Ballast Water Treatment System, with the option and flexibility to monitor an array of environmental parameters.


There is also the advantage of being able to monitor the uptake of water, so that the FastBallast System can autonomously calculate the efficiency to minimise the power requirements of a Ballast Water Treatment System.


FastBallast Portable Compliance Monitor:

User interface: Panasonic ToughPad or a Windows-based PC running FaBtest GUI
Sample folume 20 mL
Interrogated volume 0.5 mL
Excitation Four channels (Royal Blue, Blue, Green and Orange/Red)
Sensitivity <1 cell/mL
Dynamic range 0 - 4000 cells/mL
Time to result <2 minutes for level 1
<10 minutes for level 2

Internal rechargable battery pack provides 8 h continuous operation

Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth or  Ethernet
External dimensions: 240 x 198 x 109 mm

3 Kg

Density 0.68 kg/L (buoyant in water)
IP rating lid closed (open):

IP68 (IP65) 

Service interval

Greater than two years


FastBallast Dual Function Compliance Monitor


800 mm (h) x 600 mm (w) x 300 mm (d)




Wall mounted steel cabinet

Sample mode:

Continuous Flow Mode (up to 2 m/s linear flow)

Connectivity: USB 2.0 and Ethernet
User interface:

LCD Touchscreen / Windows-based tablet or PC

IP rating:



120 – 240 Vac


Detection limit below 1 cell / mL

In view of our continual developments, the designs and specifications of our products may vary from those described.


Ocean Hitchhikers

‘Alien species’ describes any species that is not native to that ecosystem, whereas an ‘invasive species’ is a term defined legally in the US as ‘an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health’.


Non-native species are one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity, 2nd only to habitat loss, so considering that we have already entered into ‘the 6th mass extinction on Earth’, this is a serious issue that needs our attention.


One of the largest vectors for marine invasive species is through ships ballast water, where water is used to fill a ship’s ballast tanks in one region and then discharged in another.  It’s been estimated that 7,000 species are present within a ship’s ballast water at any one time and depending on a ships trade route, there can easily be over 100 million plankton specimens carried in 1m3 of ballast water (Kabler, 96). So, considering the shipping industry transfers something like 10 billion tonnes of ballast each year, these risks of invasion are tremendous.


Most non-native species do cause harmful ecological effects, and the UK alone is harboring over 2,000 alien species that have become quite happily established. This is a huge problem for global economy as a government assessment has estimated that this is costing the UK economy £1.7 billion annually, and estimates from the US are as high as $137 billion every year!


Prevention is particularly important in the marine environment, where control and eradication become technically challenging – and aquatic species tend to find it easier to become established.

Invasive species

1Zebra mussel

Zebra mussel: Russia to the USA

Settled in extremely dense aggregations all over the States, reducing the amount of plankton, blocking internal waterways and threatening 30 species of mussel with extinction.


Asian Kelp: Asia to S. Australia

Rapidly displaced seabed communities


Mnemiopsis leidyi, ctenophore: N. America to Black Sea

Reached densities of 1kg per m2 and essentially collapsed the Black Sea commercial fisheries – annual losses of $500M on anchovies alone


Red Tide algae: 16 types introduced to the China Sea – costing $10 billion a year!!!








Download datasheet

  Technical paper
Using FastRepetition Rate fluorometry to monitor phytoplankton at the IMO D2 standard within ballast water discharge, K Oxborough & HG Chan, CTG, Jan 2013.

Video: "Invaders From the Sea"
Fantastic film giving a unique insight into an important environmental issue: the transfer of harmful organisms in ships' ballast water. This amazing story looks at how this phenomenon is affecting our coasts and millions of lives around the world and the measures taken by the global community to fight against these alien stowaways.
Credit: BBC Worldwide-IMO Production. Globallast is a cooperative initiative of the Global Environment Facility, UN Development Programme &  IMO.  Learn more about the issues around Ballast Water Management - check out the IMO website.

Want to know more about 'Single/Multiple turnover methods' or 'variable fluorescence', please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .