Mussel infestation is becoming
more of an issue for ships working in Alaska.The fishing fleets that home port in Seattle and make their way north a
couple times a year could be carrying them north or they may become infested in
the various ports in Alaska.Either way more and more customers are
reporting issues with the mussels growing in the piping systems and heat exchangers.
How do the mussels get deep into
the ships systems?Looking at their life
cycle explained it.While the mussel are
in the early stages of life and microscopic, they are in the water floating
around looking for a home and will attach to a substrate. At that point
it takes about 30 days for them to grow from 1/10th of a millimeter
to 0.35 of a millimeter. They are so small you generally won’t see them
with the naked eye. They keep growing and
left in place they can grow to be dozens of years old. They will start reproduction at 1 to 2 years
of age and the number of offspring to be an average of 7 million!
The Buying Network has deployed
various chemical treatments to help with issue over the years, but they didn’t
seem to be 100% effective and the amount of chemical needed to work was expensive
and seemed excessive in volume to work well.So the search was on to find a better solution.
We found what seems to be the
holy grail of keeping these little critters controlled. It is an ionized
copper in a liquid carrier with a positive charge. The positive charge
makes it disperse in water rapidly. Why the positive charge? They
can use it in lake and can simple pour in the liquid in one end of a lake and
in a couples days it is found miles away at the other end, making the treatment
of freshwater reservoirs is easy. It is NSF approved for drinking
water and is used in lakes that have fish in them and at municipality’s water
sources. The reason that this product works so well;
one, its poison to mussels in very low doses and number two, they can’t detect
that it’s in the water.
Why it is important that the
mussels can’t detect the chemical? They are very sensitive to chemicals and
will close and not feed if they sense contamination. Once a poison is
detected they stay closed for about 24 hours, then open and try to feed again.
If they sense the chemical is still there, they close and later open in a
couple of days. If they sense the poison is still in the water they stay
closed for around a week and then finally have to start feeding. This is
when you have to provide the poisonous dose or the cycle starts all over again.
This is why other products needed to be dosed very frequently and continually
to work. It’s just a gamble if you are going to get a lethal dose to get
The copper based product was
designed to combat the invasive zebra mussel. This raised a question; will it work on the
mussels we have in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, the “common” or blue
mussel.There was not much data on it, but enough it
was worth exploring.
After testing aboard multiple
ships we found that we can get a 100% kill.Once the system is clean of the larger dead mussels, the treatment kills
the baby mussel when they are so small that they will pass through the heat exchanger
and other equipment then back to the sea.You should be able to reduce the frequency of opening equipment to inspect
for mussel infestations and just monitor pressure differentials.
A simple chemical injection pump
dosing into the sea chest will protect all the salt water systems aboard.Once
the system is clean of adults, the maintenance dosing is only a handful of days
Contact The Buying Network for a
tailored program for your ship and stop fighting the never ending battle.