How a La Crosse Company is Helping Clean the Panama Canal
Inov8, La Crosse Wisconsin company is using its technology to clean the waters of the Panama Canal. Photo by Stan Shebs

How a La Crosse Company is Helping Clean the Panama Canal

INOV8, a company based in La Crosse has custom built two evaporators for the Panama Canal to get rid of bilge water from cargo ships traveling through the canal

The La Crosse company INOV8 International Inc. founded in Jan. of 1990 started with technology in a high efficiency burner. From that one product,  the company has expanded to a whole line of waste oil-burning furnaces, waste oil-burning boilers for garages and restaurants, a new line of fryer-fueled water heaters and waste water.

According to the company’s website, “INOV8 products incorporate technology that prevent typical industry problems and eliminate safety concerns. INOV8’s strength since its inception has been technological superiority in combustion of waste oil and creative solutions to unusual applications.”

INOV8’s latest project has been with the Panama Canal. The two stainless steel evaporators separate the oil that creates bilge water, using the unique burners that run off of a mix of diesel fuel, the water is then passed through coils in the evaporator and turn into steam leaving behind excess salt and oil. But these evaporators can use the collected oils leftover for the machine itself creating an endlessly green fuel alternative.

The evaporators will have some work ahead of them, on a single transit the Panama Canal uses about 52 million gallons of freshwater. But a plan which was designed back in 2007 aims to expand that canal that cost more than $5 billion and almost 10 years of construction.

The idea was to add an additional navigation lane to the canal with a new lock system. The lock system helps lift ships 85 feet to the right elevation of the canal and down again. The new locks are expected to save 7 percent less water needed for each sips transit.

Other cleaning attempts in the canal are currently Underwater Hull Cleaning by Aquadiver expert, but cleaning the hull of ships that can decrease water resistance and increase fuel consumption, as well as quality of underwater inspection by Classification Society requirements.

Even though ‘International’ in the title of their company, INOV8 manufactures products for international use as well as many states in the U.S.; ranging from manufacturing heaters for a Flora Ridge Farm in Mount Airy, North Carolina, a Waste Oil Burner for the La Crosse City Brewery, to custom built evaporators in the Panama Canal.

In the future INOV8 hopes that this new technology will not only help the canal, but “other industries from the food industry to car wash companies.”


Kirby Lichon


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