DISCOVER Magazine #7

It’s easy being green

Published in category: Green

Damen Magazine interviews Gert-Jan Oude Egberink, Manager Ballast Water Treatment of the recently established company ‘Damen Green Solutions’, which is based in a new office right by the headquarters in Gorinchem, the Netherlands.

Although Gert-Jan has spent a large part of  his career in the maritime and offshore industry ‘cleaning and treating’ water, he grew up in Oldenzaal, in the East of the Netherlands, nowhere near water, he laughs. “I was always attracted to the water and did lot of windsurfing but in the Netherlands I could hardly live further away from it but I always had a passion for nature.”

His studies reflected this passion for nature and sustainability and he chose to do a Bachelor degree in environmental technologies at the Van Hall Institute in Groningen. “I think my interest grew because the Netherlands was facing many issues surrounding soil and water pollution at the time. I knew I wanted to do something with environmental technologies and in those times there was hardly a mention of sustainability!”

Gert-Jan went on to gain a masters degree in business management from the University of Greenwich. And his first job took him straight into the oil & gas industry, where he was working for exploration and production companies on the Dutch continental shelf. The company supplied performance chemicals for the offshore sector to clean water from the platforms and optimise production processes.

After four years he moved to General Electric, where he worked for the GE unit supplying water treatment technology and solutions to industries. “I wanted to help industries reduce their water footprint, such as those in the processing industry, refineries, steel/chemical plants, food production, power plants etc. As a territory manager I was responsible for the commercial and service operations in the Netherlands. I spent 14 years at GE and really liked leading a dedicated team of water specialists and working with the customers, providing solutions, helping them solve their issues to environmental problems.”

And then came Damen with Gert-Jan joining the company in 2013. “I noticed an advertisement for a Ballast Water Treatment manager. I knew a lot about water but admittedly, not so much about the global ballast water problem from shipping at the time. As said, I have always been fascinated by nature and the environment and I was really interested in what ballast water issues the shipping industry has. I saw the many ideas the company is spearheading and what it could offer customers. I knew this was really a job for me.

“No other organisation is offering ballast water port solutions, mobile alternatives, retrofitting, the repair yards… It needs an integrated approach and we have all the capabilities needed.”

Additionally, when considering the investments the company is making in developing environmental, sustainable solutions, it is showing its commitment, he says, pointing to the launch of Damen Green Solutions. A production facility is also adjacent to the new office.

We are at the point of no turning back – ratification is going to happen now.

While most were waiting for the ratification of the IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention, Damen is being proactive, Gert-Jan stresses, looking at what the issues could be, finding solutions, building a new organisation, forming partnerships and creating new products. We are well prepared for the IMO Convention, which is now expected to enter force in 2017, and can serve its customers with one-stop-shop retrofit, and unique mobile port solutions.”

In 2015 a fully containerised Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) retrofitting solution named ‘BalCon’ was launched. BalCon may use Type-approved UV or electrochlorination technology from its partner BWT makers (Evoqua, Trojan Marinex and BioSea). It is particularly suited for container vessels and chemical/gas tankers with submersible pumps or vessels that only need a temporary system to bridge a short period before they are scrapped.

A cost effective IMO Type approved LoFlo system was also launched, which is suitable for smaller vessels, with limited space below and low ballast water fl ow rates. LoFlo can process at 30, 60 or 90 m3 an hour and uses filtration and UV technology from partner BioSea.

There is also the unique Damen developed InvaSave system, the world’s first mobile ballast water discharge unit for ports. It is suitable for owners that may not want to retrofit a treatment system, perhaps because their ships operate on fixed routes, and ports, which may need to provide a backup in the case of emergencies when a ship’s on board treatment systems fail.

“Damen started this new company because it knows that the shipping industry needs solutions to become more sustainable and that we can play a role here. At Green Solutions we work with customers, help them solve problems. Ultimately, this is good for the environment and this enables customers to save and make money!

“We are at the point of no turning back – ratification is going to happen now. Our products and people are ready; we have built a very strong team of committed, knowledgeable people. I feel really blessed to be a manager of such a company with such potential, good products and great people. And we can help create a better world. What could be better?”

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