By Andrea Busfield
A Cyprus-based company is making waves in the shipping industry with a pioneering water treatment system.
Brit Mark Hadfield, who lives in Limassol, has developed the world’s first eco-friendly way to protect home waters from invasive species.
His unique system, that treats ballast water on ships, is only months away from being fully licensed – and orders are already rolling in.
“The FlowSafe system is now in the final stages of type approval,” Mark said. “We’ve received huge support along the way from the Cyprus shipping community, which has given us an order book of €40million and we have letters of intent that take that order book to over €200million.
“We aim to make this a billion-turnover company in the next five years.”
In basic terms, ballast water stabilizes vessels at sea, but while it is essential for efficient modern shipping operations, it can pose serious ecological, economic and health problems.
“If you’ve loaded water in the Far East and sail back to Cyprus, dropping this water in Cyprus waters can cause major disruption,” explained Mark. “These waters contain invasive species as well as bacteria and viruses that are not native to our waters, and globally this is a huge problem – it’s killing fish, it can kill humans, it’s spreading risk and it’s destroying ecosystems.”
With the spread of invasive species now recognized as one of the greatest threats to the ecological and the economic well-being of the planet, the Ballast Water Management Convention, adopted in 2004, established certain standards and procedures including a requirement that all ships in international traffic manage their ballast water to a certain standard. These standards continue to be phased in over a period of time, but eventually, most ships will need to install an on-board ballast water treatment system.
With a background in research and development engineering, Mark realized this was a potentially huge and credible business to be in and in 2012 he established Flow Water Technologies Ltd.
The 51-year-old from Manchester said: “The Ballast Water Convention requires that every vessel starting this year, and over the next five years, has to install a ballast water treatment system. As it stands there are only 30 companies in the world with the right paperwork and qualifications to do this. I knew I could be one of them.”
Mark’s Flowsafe system has been seven years in the making – from concept to trial – and the company is now only months away from IMO and US Coast Guard approval. It will also be the first and only carbon-neutral system on the market that operates on close-to-zero costs.
“Everything we have done so far has been technically compliant,” he said. “We have met all the requirements, the machines have performed extremely well and we’re now in the final stages with one of our ballast water machines onboard a vessel to complete a six-month sea trial. The ship went out in February and once the trial is finished it’s simply a matter of going through the administration process to get our license.
“It has been quite a journey and I’m really proud of the technology we’ve developed. For a company to achieve what we have done from Cyprus, on a relatively small budget of €15million is largely thanks to the support we’ve received from the shipping community here as well as the Cypriot government that has embraced what we are doing.”
Mark’s business is one of a number of innovative projects the Cyprus government has been actively supporting in its efforts to diversify the island nation’s economy.
George Campanellas, CEO of the government agency Invest Cyprus, said: “Mark’s pioneering ballast water treatment system is a hugely exciting development that Cyprus is proud to be associated with. FlowSafe not only adds to the already excellent global reputation of our shipping industry, but it works to ensure the future safety of our planet, something that should be of concern to all of us in this day and age.”