Design and implementation of a continuous microwave heating system for ballast water treatment

Document Type


Publication Date



A continuous microwave system to treat ballast water inoculated with different invasive species was designed and installed atthe Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. The effectiveness of the system to deliver the required heating loads to inactivate the organisms present was studied. The targeted organisms were microalgae (Nannochloropsis oculata), zooplankton at two different growth stages (newly hatched brine shrimp-Artemia nauplii and adult Artemia), and oyster larvae (Crassosstrea virginica). The system was tested at two different flow rates (1 and 2 liters per min) and power levels (2.5 and 4.5 kW). Temperature profiles indicate that, depending on the species present and the growth stage, the maximum temperature increase will vary from 11.8 to 64.9 degrees C. The continuous microwave heating system delivered uniform and near-instantaneous heating at the outlet proving its effectiveness. The power absorbed and power efficiency varied for the species present. More than 80% power utilization efficiency was obtained at all flow rate and microwave power combinations for microalgae, Artemia nauplii and adults. Test results indicated that microwave treatment can be an effective tool for ballast water treatment, and current high treatment costs notwithstanding, this technique can be added as supplemental technology to the palette of existing treatment methods.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Environmental science & technology

First Page


Last Page