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MOL Plans to Expand Use of Microplastic Collection Device on Bulkers

microplastic collection device and ballast water treatment
One of MOL's woodchip carriers (file photo)

Published Mar 24, 2021 3:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

Japan’s Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is expanding the use of a microplastic collection device that it has been testing aboard its bulk carriers. The unique device, which works with the ballast water treatment system, is designed to leverage the merchant fleet to accelerate ocean environmental conservation efforts.

MOL reports that the device will be installed on a newbuilding woodchip carrier that is due to be delivered in 2022. The vessel will operate under charter to the Marusumi Paper Co. contributing to both companies’ efforts to promote resource recycling and worldwide efforts to address environmental and social issues.

Developed by MOL in partnership with Miura Co. the device was first installed and tested on one of its newly built woodchip carriers in the fall of 2020. According to the companies, it is common for microplastics, the plastic residue floating in the ocean as larger plastics breakdown, to come into a ship’s tanks during ballasting procedures. Normally, the plastics are caught in the ship’s filters and discharged overboard back into the ocean along with the ballast water.

The microplastic collection device is activated while the vessel is alongside loading and offloading cargo and operating its ballast water treatment system. Using a filter with a backwashing function, as part of the ballast water treatment system, the device collects microplastics trapped in the filter right before the treated water is discharged overboard. 

The performance of the device was confirmed in the earlier demonstration tests showing that it was able to collect tens of thousands of microplastics annually from each vessel. After the initial testing, MOL has proceeded to install the device on three additional bulk carriers. The new woodchip carrier will be the fifth vessel equipped with the microplastic collection device.

MOL aims to make the oceans clean and achieve resource recycling by collecting and recycling microplastics. They plan to install the microplastic collection device on more vessels.