The Future of Maritime Waste at Posidonia

June 22, 2022

3 minutes, 38 seconds read

The Future of Maritime Waste at Posidonia

In early June, Power Knot Ocean attended its first international trade show: Posidonia 2022. Posidonia is an international shipping exhibition which takes place every two years in Athens, Greece. The exhibition is the largest meeting place for the Greek shipping industry and international transportation experts. National and international exhibitors showed the latest innovations for marine customers and also presented spare parts, boat accessories, and all services related to the shipping sector.

Posidonia 2020 did not occur due to the impact of COVID-19. This was the first event in four years. Thousands of attendees from across the world poured into the Athens Metropolitan Expo.

In this blog, we review the top three things we learned at Posidonia and what they mean for the future of the waste and maritime industries.

Renewed focus on going green

As a whole, the entire marine industry is moving towards a greener future. Many of the conversations and talks were centered around sustainability and carbon emissions. While many shipbuilders and owners focused on how EEXI and CCI impact transportation emissions, many discussions honed in on small problems that every ship seemed to face.

A majority of the seminars focused on the use of technology, both software and hardware, to solve these problems. The most popular topics covered net-zero shipping, digital transformation in maritime, zero carbon outlook, and evolving demands for maritime industry.

Food waste is a problem

To our surprise, there were a number of shipowners who openly revealed that they were still disposing of food waste by throwing it into the ocean. Although these shipowners understand that throwing food waste into the ocean has detrimental effects on the environment and the sea creatures, they continue to offboard it because of simplicity and low cost (as long as they aren’t caught!) 

While the cruise industry is familiar with biodigesters due to MARPOL and DOJ regulations, many shipowners were unaware that food waste digesters are being used by maritime vessels to digest food waste onsite. 

Power Knot Ocean booth at Posidonia

How does the biodigester work?

The LFC biodigester uses a natural composting process called aerobic digestion, in which microorganisms convert food waste into water. The microorganisms are housed in a medium in the biodigester and slowly mixed with food waste and water. 

What is the biodigester output?

The inputs are water, oxygen, and food waste while the output is gray water and carbon dioxide.

Where does the biodigester output go on ships?

The output goes into the gray water tank and can then be safely disposed at sea while underway.

Microplastics are a major concern to the marine industry

Of the shipowners who use pulpers or who are familiar with biodigesters, some were cognizant of potential limitations. Traditionally, a plastic medium was used to house the microorganisms. Over time, these would degrade and eventually have to be removed. If it was not, it could potentially cause microplastics to enter the ocean and waste streams. 

Other biodigester companies are currently using peach pits or seed pits to house the microorganisms. However, this comes with a multitude of issues with the biggest issue stemming from high potential damage to the inside of the machine if it is not completely made of stainless steel. The pits will damage machines over time and can cause potential leaks and maintenance issues. Ships at sea cannot afford to dock and waste time waiting for repairs on the biodigester.

Attendees at Posidonia were astounded to learn that the Powerchips Green, the medium used to house microorganisms in the LFC biodigester, are made entirely out of organic matter. The low recurring costs of the consumables and positive effect on the environment brought much attention to the Power Knot booth. The chips have an irregular shape to distribute water and oxygen to the microorganisms to speed the digestion of the food waste. Additionally, they are highly porous to enable growth of microorganism colonies to accelerate the digestion.

Maritime vessels that use biodigesters for their food waste are not only compliant with MARPOL regulations, but are also saving money and time by using a solution on the vessel. The LFC biodigester and Powerchips Green allow them to meet sustainability goals with carbon reduction reports easily generated from the LFC Cloud, Power Knot’s continuous waste data analytics system.

To learn more about which biodigester best suits your maritime vessel, contact us here.