Navy to purify its greasy engine wastewater

Navy has a bio-treatment facility which separates contamination from wastewater coming out of its ships.

January 30, 2013 00:00
1 minute read.
Bilge water undergoes biological treatment

Bilge water370. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)


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The gobs of greasy wastewater that amass in the underbellies of the nation’s coastal guardians are now able to return to their Mediterranean origins due to the implementation of a new purification system.

Deep inside the ship bilges – the lower portion of the boat where dirty water collects – the water used to operate the vessels’ diesel engines accumulate in a form extremely contaminated by oil and fuel, explained Capt. Yaron Ben-Simon, head of naval architecture and the marine engineering department at the navy’s Haifa Base. In the past, the base had to either collect the greasy grime in local tanks and suck it out on-site for disposal, or ship the tanks on polluting trucks to remote treatment locations, Ben-Simon told The Jerusalem Post in an interview last week.

Now, however, the navy has invested in its own biological treatment facility, at the base itself.

“This is a special bio-treatment facility which separates contamination from wastewater coming out of our ships,” Ben- Simon said. “The idea is to avoid transportation of oily wastewater coming out of the bilges.”

After collecting the engine wastewater from many ships in a single, large tank, the naval treatment site operators then pour a biological treatment agent into the tank, which cleans the water to the extent that it may be returned to the sea, according to Ben-Simon. Entirely separated from the clean water, the contaminants are then sent for proper disposal.

While the navy has been studying many such purification options for several years, the pilot prototype that administrators eventually chose has been running for about a year. Throughout that year, during which the waters underwent a series of meticulous quality checks, the pilot facility processed about 1,000 cubic liters of liquid, Ben-Simon said.

“Now we intend to continue working with this system,” he added.

Although Ben-Simon could not say exactly how many ships the system is currently treating, he stressed that it is purifying the engine wastewater of all vessels at the Haifa Base.

He and his colleagues are now working to bring in bigger tanks and increasing their treatment abilities, so that they can potentially connect other bases to the system in the future, he explained.

“It really works well,” Ben-Simon said.

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