Great Ships Initiative




GSI facilities include a state-of-the-art land-based freshwater ballast water treatment facilitybench-scale test laboratories within the University of Wisconsin-Superior and University of Minnesota-Duluth, and mobile test facilities for use in conjunction with  shipboard tests.

GSI Bench-Scale Facilities

GSI's bench-scale tests take place in well-equipped chemistry, microbial, aquatic toxicology and taxonomy laboratories of the Lake Superior Research Institute located at the University of Wisconsin-Superior in Superior, Wisconsin, USA. These laboratories, and biology laboratories of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, are also used for Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) tests, and non-time sensitive taxonomic analysis of samples from GSI land-based and shipboard tests.

GSI Land-Based Facilities

GSI land-based tests take place at the purpose-built GSI Land-Based Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDTE) Facility located in Superior, Wisconsin, USA. The facility draws ambient freshwater from the St. Louis River estuary of Lake Superior, a major port in the Great Lakes.Key features of the GSI Land-Based RDTE Facility include:
  • Four x 200 m3 matched retention tanks for experimental water, and a 260 m3 wastewater storage tank;
  • Connection to municipal water for intake water facility cleaning and, in select cases, for additional intake water modification;
  • Connection to municipal sewer for disposal of spent experimental water, when required;
  • Matched (split) control and treatment intake flows up to 340 m3/hour each;
  • Highly automated flow and pressure control, monitoring and data logging;
  • A freshwater estuary with diverse and plentiful aquatic life as a challenge water intake source;
  • Capacity to amend intake challenge water to intensify challenge conditions;
  • Validated facility sanitation before and between test cycles;
  • High quality in-line and/or in-tank sampling and/or spiking;
  • On-site laboratory space for most live analyses, additional space minutes away;
  • Capacity to test BWMS’ that operate on intake, discharge, in-tank or combinations thereof;
  • Whole effluent toxicity (WET) testing; and
  • Easy plug-in connections for BWMSs.

A "walk-through" presentation of the GSI Land-Based RDTE Facility is available here.

Information for Treatment Developers (pdf) is available here.

GSI Shipboard Facilities

GSI undertakes shipboard tests on commercially operating vessels, including those which ply within or to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. GSI generally undertakes time-sensitive analysis of samples from shipboard tests either in nearby hotel rooms close to the test vessel, in facilities provided by the port, or in the GSI Mobile Laboratory. When test ships ply to the Duluth/Superior area, GSI land-based test facilities provide a useful venue. Non-time sensitive samples are generally transported or shipped to GSI bench-scale laboratories following appropriate sample handling and custody procedures.

Mobile Laboratory

The GSI mobile laboratory provides mobile facilities for on-site analysis of shipboard test samples. The mobile laboratory is stationed at the GSI Land-Based RDTE Facility during the testing season and deployed to other sites in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System to support GSI shipboard tests as needed. The mobile laboratory is climate-controlled and equipped with ample desk and counter space.  GSI generally reserves the mobile lab for the highly time sensitive analysis of live zooplankton samples.


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