Anne Kalosh | Oct 19, 2020
BioHiTech Global has burst into the cruise sector in two timely areas, providing a solution to disinfect spaces to operating-room standard and environmentally friendly food waste biodigesters.
SeaDream Yacht Club
On the disinfection front, BioHiTech supplied the Altapure AP-4 to SeaDream Yacht Club as it prepares to embark on Caribbean cruises from Barbados in November. This automated, advanced ultrasonic technology delivers a dense cloud of sub-micron fog droplets for the high-level disinfection of large spaces, including air and surfaces. Altapure kills 100% of bacteria, spores, fungus and viruses such as corona viruses.
‘We are very happy with Altapure AP-4. We have used it already for a week and sanitized the complete yacht before starting [the trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise] on Oct. 15,’ Sudesh Kishore, SVP hotel operations, told Seatrade Cruise News. Kishore said SeaDream I’s public areas will be sanitized twice a week using Altapure while staterooms will be disinfected on a rotational occupancy basis to ensure all guests arrive to a 100% sanitized stateroom.
‘Going forward, there’s going to be a new [cruise industry] standard,’ predicted Frank Celli, CEO of BioHiTech. ‘I give a lot of credit to SeaDream that they’re taking a very proactive approach with a very expensive piece of equipment.’
$14m Carnival Corp. deal
When it comes to food waste, BioHiTech early this year bagged a purchase contract with Carnival Corp. valued at up to $14m for potentially hundreds of Revolution series digesters and ongoing cloud-based data analytics and supplies. Used across the ships of several Carnival brands, these biodigesters safely dispose of food waste on site, limiting greenhouse gases from conventional processing systems.
Last week, a $300,000 order was received from Princess Cruises for its newly delivered Enchanted Princess. This follows a $300,000 order for Royal Princess in September and $1m in orders for Carnival Cruise Line ships including the new Mardi Gras in July.
‘As we prepare for the future resumption of cruising, environmental stewardship is a critical focus for our organization, and we are happy to be working with BioHiTech as one of our important vendors supporting environmental compliance,’ said Adm. Bill Burke, EVP/chief maritime officer for Carnival Corp. ‘By progressively installing their food waste digesters on our ships, we can use data to improve efficiencies while reducing our overall environmental impact.’
Branching into the cruise sector
BioHiTech is the cruise industry distributor for the US-manufactured Altapure AP-4, expanding its cruise line services after success in the food waste processing area.
The Chestnut Ridge, New York-based company worked with the SeaDream team to develop a plan for disinfecting each shipboard space, based on its volume. Celli said a small area like an elevator can be treated in 10 minutes, while the casino may take 1.5 hours and staterooms about 30 minutes each.
Preventative and reactionary
‘What’s unique about the AP-4 is that it gives SeaDream the ability to achieve an operating-room level of disinfection in their casino, massage rooms or staterooms,’ Celli said. ‘It is preventative, to be used regularly to cleanse areas, and is not specific to COVID-19.’ The technology, launched in 2017, is used in hospitals, clinics, the pharmaceutical industry, laboratories, research centers, the food processing industry, civil defense, military and government facilities.
The AP-4 can also be used as a reactionary tool to sanitize a compromised space. In the event a passenger or crew member gets sick, their surroundings can be disinfected and restored to hospital-grade standard in a very short time, Celli said. Fully disinfecting a stateroom — air, all surfaces, the carpet, door handle, drawer pulls, picture frames, computer keys, etc. — would take about 30 minutes, compared to a much longer, labor-intensive process of wiping down, washing and airing everything.
The unit is fully automated. It’s placed into a closed room and remotely operated by a hand-held control tablet that is touch-screen activated and communicates via wireless means.
The disinfection agent is natural and nontoxic, leaving to residue or odors, so the room can be immediately occupied afterward. The agent is FDA-approved for use in food areas so, for example, a bowl of fruit could be left in a room with no harm to the fruit.
Use in larger ships
Celli said the AP-4 is ‘pretty expensive,’ around $100,000. One unit is adequate to disinfect a SeaDream-size yacht. For larger ships, multiple units would be needed but most likely the AP-4 would be dedicated to high-traffic areas like public restrooms, elevators, the infirmary, spa and fitness center, plus deployed on an event-driven basis, to restore an area where a person has been ill.
Passenger cabins, Celli noted, should not have a lot of exposure to COVID-19, unless someone brings it back from a common area.
Food waste biodigesters
BioHiTech manufactures its proprietary Revolution series digesters in Pennsylvania, with assembly and quality control in New York state. It has customized the design in conjunction with Carnival Corp. for cruise ship galley use, naming this model Mangrove.
It works like a robotic stomach, using naturally occurring bacteria to break down food waste into liquid form. No chemicals are needed.
‘It likes to be fed continually. Its best use is 24 hours a day, so it’s perfect for the cruise industry,’ Celli said.
Depending on factors like the type of food, one Mangrove unit can process up to about 2,000 pounds of waste per day. The average large cruise ship would require about 10 digesters, but Celli said numbers could range from eight to 12 or 14 per ship.
Carnival Corp., which prior to the COVID-19 pandemic had committed to reducing food waste by 10% fleetwide by 2021 as part of its probation in a criminal pollution case, started using BioHiTech digesters in mid-2019, among several other technologies it was testing across numerous ships.
In January, Carnival firmed the BioHiTech purchase contract for up to $14m, or approximately 600 units, most to be delivered in 2020 and 2021, with a smaller number in 2022. That was disrupted by the pandemic shutdown, but starting last July, BioHiTech began to receive purchase orders from various Carnival brands.
‘We’re happy to have Carnival as a customer,’ Celli said. ‘Carnival has said the food waste digester process is very important to them. We’re here for them and we’re well-poised to ramp up [production] for them.’
So far, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess and Holland America Line plan to use the technology and BioHiTech hopes to see interest from other brands, within and beyond Carnival Corp. The river cruise sector is a potential market.
Food waste data analytics
According to Celli, BioHiTech’s proprietary data analytics are a major differentiator. Real-time data can be provided in a secure Cloud environment to help lines analyze food waste and assist with compliance.
‘We can slice data any way the customer wants it,’ Celli said. This could compare different venues on the same ship, ships with the same class, different geographies and other parameters to help cut food waste via purchasing and menu planning.
‘We’re very optimistic about opportunities for food waste digesters and Altapure in 2021,’ Celli told Seatrade Cruise News. He added that BioHiTech aspires to be a ‘complete provider of environmental solutions,’ and intends to grow with diversified technology, both its own and via partnerships such as that with Altapure.
Cruise executive on the board
Travel industry veteran Walter Littlejohn, SVP and managing director, Crystal River Cruises, was appointed to the BioHiTech board in July.
‘Together, we are on a mission to have a positive impact on the environment by delivering cost-effective technologies to solve problems in waste management and, now, virus disinfection,’ Littlejohn said. ‘I believe that nowhere is the need for BioHiTech’s solutions more prevalent than in the hospitality industry and I look forward to lending my expertise in this area as well as providing management with long-term guidance to help BioHiTech deliver on its promising future.’