La Crosse company INOV8 will ship two evaporators to the Panama Canal this week in an effort to help the canal authority keep the water clean and cut down on waste disposal costs.
Since 1990, INOV8 has produced environmentally friendly heading equipment that uses waste oil for fuel. A few modifications later and now the company is receiving global attention for its newest product.
"We are the only company I know of that actually can burn diesel and the only one that can burn waste oil," Rebecca Faas, president of INOV8, said. "We're also the only one that can burn them at the same time and has the automation to revert to full diesel if we lose waste oil."
Two evaporators will be shipped to the canal this week, designed to treat dirty bilge water for the canal authority. The stainless steel tanks convert the dirty water into steam, leaving behind oil and salt. Then, after collecting the oil off of the top of the water, it is then pumped into the burner as fuel, completing the recycling process.
"It will only end up costing one penny per gallon to dispose of this waste bilge water," Faas said.
Aside from being economically friendly, the technology is also environmentally conscious.
"The only other option that has been described to me is putting this bilge water into an open air pit and letting it naturally evaporate," she said. "But that leaves behind a thick sludge consisting of some oil so the next concern becomes pollution if you burn it but a possible leach if you bury it."
The company says it quickly secured the bid for the project with the canal authority, but soon after, ran into some trouble.
"They told us to deliver the equipment and then if it was working in six or eight months they would pay us then," Harry Foust, the creator of the technology, said. "We're a small company and that doesn't work for us. So they went ahead and looked for someone else to do it and they told us they couldn't find anyone in the world."
The EPA is beefing up its penalties for illegally dumping bilge water into the ocean, which can result in steep fines and prosecution.
Each evaporator on average costs around $40,000. However, Faas said the savings on disposal costs can pay for the investment in just a couple of months.