Chinese company develops ballast water management tech
Updated 07:52, 23-Jan-2019
By Michael Wang, Yang Xiao, You Yang
03:45

SunRui is a marine environmental engineering company in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao. Asia's most advanced ballast water management system was first developed and produced right here. 

Guo Yu, general manager of SunRui's Ship Department, told CGTN that the company has received approval for its ballast water management system from the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in 2017. That makes SunRui the first enterprise in Asia and fourth in the world to get this approval. Its cutting-edge technology and recognition of the market at an early stage allowed the company to be a leader in the field.

Guo Yu, general manager of SunRui's Ship Department. /CGTN Photo

Guo Yu, general manager of SunRui's Ship Department. /CGTN Photo

The ballast water requirements set by the USCG is the strictest in the world. For SunRui, meeting USCG standards is a testament to its innovation capabilities, especially given that China's ballast water R&D capabilities began from a blank slate. The company sailed past this roadblock by drawing on its past experience.

Meanwhile, the company's regional manager for Overseas Affairs said that technology owned by SunRui has been applied for land based uses for over 30 years. She stressed the technology is very stable and mature for them to use on vessels. For policymakers though, China has been involved in the ballast water management convention since its adoption in 2004.

Ballast water system. /CGTN Photo

Ballast water system. /CGTN Photo

The China Classification Society sets and approves engineering standards for ships played a key role in the guideline-setting for the convention by providing China's unique angle to the treaty's deliberations.

Wang Huifang, senior engineer at the Rules and Technology Center of China Classification Society (CCS), told CGTN that there are some special waters in China like the Yangtze River estuary and Yangshan deep water port, which has a lot amount of suspended sediments in these waters. 

"This brings more challenge to the performance of ballast water management system on board. So CCS proposed to International Maritime Organization that this challenging water need more attention during the research and development of ballast water management system and ships operation," said Wang.

Wang Huifang, senior engineer at the Rules and Technology Center of China Classification Society. /CGTN Photo

Wang Huifang, senior engineer at the Rules and Technology Center of China Classification Society. /CGTN Photo

China's ballast water management industry is not without its challenges though. For Chinese brands such as SunRui, even after achieving the highest standards in the industry, it still faced uphill battles, such as brand recognition abroad. 

Guo gave us an example, "Sometimes the ‘Made in China' brand faces discrimination on the global stage. We've encountered situations where even after arriving at the offices of a shipping company, they would say ‘sorry, but we don't have the time."

Despite the initial uncertainties of the Ballast Water and Sediments Convention – ranging from global companies doubting Chinese brands to the ballast water management industry starting from scratch here in China, companies like SunRui decided to press on and develop its own proprietary technology as it saw more opportunity rather than challenges. 

In 2018, Japan's NYK Shipping decided to give SunRui 89 of their ships in one order to install their ballast water management system. The total deal is worth 500 million yuan (73 million U.S. dollars).

SunRui's factory in Qingdao. /CGTN Photo

SunRui's factory in Qingdao. /CGTN Photo

China's participation in the ballast water management convention and its development of eco-friendly marine technologies are the latest steps in preserving the oceans for posterity. 

In 2018, China signed a landmark partnership with the EU setting clear commitments in safeguarding marine ecosystems. As a key stakeholder in the UN's Sustainable Development Goal on oceans and as China continues to reform by emphasizing environmental protection, the country's commitment and impact on keeping the oceans blue will only grow.

(Top image via VCG)