Imaging Particle Analysis - Ballast Water Applications

Originally developed for oceanographic research, FlowCAM ® offers significant advantages in ballast water analysis. It can detect, image and count microorganisms in ballast water. Flexible and easy to use, the FlowCAM can be customized with various excitation lasers to accommodate specific detection work. FlowCAM is an integrated digital imaging system for rapidly analyzing particles or cells in a fluid. By combining capabilities of flow cytometry, microscopy, digital imaging and fluorescence detection, the FlowCAM automatically counts, images, and analyzes the particles or cells in a discrete sample or a continuous flow. Powered by our VisualSpreadsheet software, the FlowCAM offers the fastest, most intuitive ballast water analysis available.

Available as either a benchtop or portable model, the FlowCAM® can be used in the lab or in the field. That’s why it’s now used worldwide by scientists, researchers, and technicians to support their work in ballast water systems testing.

FlowCAM Ballast Water Example:

Monitor and analyze ballast water with greater accuracy and insight.

In order to ensure that treated ballast water is meeting the Ballast Water Performance Standard [D2 Regulations] set by the IMO’s international convention, it is a requirement that viable cells within certain size ranges be detected and enumerated. The FlowCAM® is ideally suited to monitor treated ballast water and is being used by research groups as a tool to determine the efficacy of different ballast water treatment method.

Testing Results of using the FlowCAM® for ballast water anaylsis.

The organisms used during this study, with the FDA protocol and stain, were two dinoflagellates and one chlorophyte. Two results are presented:

Figure A: Live Test
Figure B: Dead Test

Live Test

When looking at live cells, (Fig. A), they acquire FDA stain (highlighted in blue) with a mean green fluorescence (Ch2) value of 3268.48.

Dead Test

For the dead test, (Fig. B) there is almost a complete absence of Ch2 (green fluorescence) observed when the cells are preserved, as the cells do not acquire the FDA stain (mean Ch2 fluorescence = 220.84). The FlowCAM® scatter diagram in Fig B. (Ch2) clearly shows that all the cells are dead. For both tests, the mean Ch1 fluorescence remains nearly constant (between 2967-3115), indicating the presence of chlorophyll (red fluorescence) within all the cells.


When the cells are viable, the FDA stained population (shown in blue) is clearly distinguishable from the non-viable cells within the same sample (shown in red in Fig. A).

Application Note

FlowCAM® Use as a Portable Imaging Instrument for Indicative Analysis of Treated Ballast Water



Ocean Systems Ballast Water Article




FlowCAM Aquatic 4 Page Brochure




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