Ballast Water Compliance Monitoring to IMO D2 & USCG Discharge Standards - FastBallast

Ocean hitchhikers are one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity – 2nd only to habitat loss. These non-native species cause huge impacts on economies and can be very detrimental to human health. For example, 16 species of cyanobacteria (marine algae <10 µm) that have invaded and become very successfully established in the China Sea are costing over $10 billion a year to try and control. Some of these species can cause Toxic Shellfish Poisoning, which can lead to death in humans, and they are also very damaging to the abundance of local species.


In the process of moving 90% of the world’s freight, shipping transfers approximately ten billion tons of ballast water around the world every year.  It is one of the biggest vectors for invasive species’ pathways. It has been estimated that 7,000 species can be present in a ballast tank at any one time and that there can easily be over 100 million plankton specimens carried in 1m3 of ballast water – so the risks of invasion are serious.


Ship owners, Port Authorities and Flag States are now required to prevent these invasions by ensuring that the ballast water they discharge has been effectively managed and treated to kill the vast majority of plankton and bacteria that would otherwise be a risk to the local environment. Guidelines of standards have been outlined in the D2 Section of the 2004 IMO Ballast Water Management Convention, however, many countries are already implementing more stringent regulations.










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CTG now offers Integrated and Handheld solutions for:

  • Manufacturers of Ballast Water Treatment Systems
  • Ship Operators
  • Analytical Laboratories
  • Port State Control
  • Filtration Manufacturers
  • Ship Service Providers
  • Flag State Agents



D2 Standard

Size Class D2 Standard
>50μm <10 viable organisms per cubic meter
10-50μm <10 viable organisms per millimetre
Vibrio cholerae <1 colony forming unit (cfu) per 100ml
E.coli <250 colony cfu per 100ml
Intestinal Enterococci
<100 cfu per 100ml






What is CTG doing?

Chelsea Technologies Group has developed the  FastBallast Ballast Water Compliance Monitors, these systems are 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


We are now working closely with both manufacturers of treatment systems and certification authorities around the world to achieve the highest standards of test criteria, so that we may be able to assess the efficacy of all treatment systems as rapidly, accurately and objectively as possible.


Organizations that Chelsea are working with include Plymouth Marine Laboratory UK, the National Oceanography Centre UK, DNV.GL, Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, Lloyd’s Register, Blue Tech, the Society of Maritime Industries and many more.  FastBallast is currently undergoing evaluation from the USCG, which is expected to be completed by 2016. 

CTG Solution

We now have the technology for an on-site test that is as good as shore based analyses, but faster, objective and done at the time of discharge with no sample preparation.


A key requirement for any installed treatment system is to provide an analysis of the ballast water at the point of discharge to demonstrate effective treatment. Using the inherent sensitivity of the FastBallast Compliance Monitor (hyperlink to products page?), the variable fluorescence from live phytoplankton cells are objectively measured to accurately determine cell density, with the same accuracy as microscopy does. This technology can be applied to save time and money for ship owners and authorities in ports, but it can also be applied to determine the power requirements and efficiency of Ballast Water Treatment Systems.


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 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 and results are displayed as a Pass/Fail at the D2 Level with an accurate cell count. No filtration steps are required. 


The Dual Function Compliance Monitor 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.


The Integrated Compliance Monitor 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 it 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.



How does it work?

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.


How can FastBallast reasure ship owners

With the ability to operate with discrete samples and flowing water, the portable versions of FastBallast are designed for carrying out spot check measurements, reassuring both Port State Control and ship board engineers that their BWTS is operating as it should. Results are simply displayed as a Pass/Fail at the D2 Level with an accurate cell count.


Because FastBallast uses the most sensitive technology available it works in any water type and can account for different cell sizes to produce a tangible cell count of the 10-50 µm range outlined in the regulations. This means that authorities, ship owners and manufacturers can be extremely confident when testing for compliancy and it will greatly reduce any reliance on shore based analysis.


The integrated variant of FastBallast is designed for permanent installation with a Ballast Water Treatment System, where it will operate in a flow-through mode to provide a continuous real-time log of compliance. This will ensure the authorities that your ship is doing everything possible to follow the global regulations. This version of FastBallast can interface with a vessel’s internal system for logging compliance data, which can also transmit data ashore if required, saving even more time in port.


Some countries are already implementing more stringent regulations and it is likely that all global regulations will require the monitoring of cells <10 µm in size, as it is these cells that are the most abundant and potentially dangerous in the oceans. The FastBallast technology is already capable of detecting these smaller cells and would only require a simple software update to change its monitoring parameters.

How does FastBallast compare with other compliance tests?

We now have the technology for an on-site test that is as good as shore based analyses, but faster, objective and done at the time of discharge with no sample preparation. 


FastBallast is the ONLY technology capable of operating in flow-through mode.


FastBallast technology has the potential to replace microscopy as the laboratory standard. There is currently not the infrastructure of facilities around the world or enough trained microscopists to cope with vast testing that will be required for Ballast Water Management Monitoring. FastBallast eliminates having to send samples to a lab, which would cause severe delay and financial loss to ships and where samples would be at huge risk of compromise during transit and through other errors associated with the precision of microscopy (discrepancies with slide types, analytical errors, cell growth, pipetting errors, concentration errors and focal plane discrepancies).


Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a detailed comparison of FastBallast and Microscopy.

How was FastBallast developed?


In 2012, Chelsea were invited to workon an initiative to develop fluorometry techniques, as our team have a very applicable variety of backgrounds. These include photo-biology, marine biology, engineering, electronics and software development, which has enabled us to provide the most cutting edge and easy to use technology for monitoring ballast water discharge.


The system is tamper proof and can be provided as either an open or encrypted installation.