EnSolve Biosystems was founded in 1995 in Raleigh, NC by Dr. Jason Caplan to develop biotechnology products that clean the environment. In the fall of 1995, EnSolve was awarded an economic development loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to develop a biotechnology device that could destroy organic pollutants in both water and air simultaneously. The research successfully lead to a device that could biodegrade oil from bilgewater. After some market research, it was evident that no company had developed a patented biotechnology device that treated oily bilgewater from ships.
In 1996, EnSolve developed a full-scale prototype for testing onboard the Cape Lobos, a 700-foot Maritime Administration (MARAD) vessel moored in Wilmington, NC. The device was installed in the machine shop of the ship and oily bilgewater was pumped to the device for continuous treatment over a period of 70 days. The results were dramatic. In all effluent samples measured, the oil concentrations were well below the U.S. Coast Guard limits for legal overboard discharge. Typical effluent levels were 1 ppm compared with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) limit of 15 ppm. Therefore, a patent application for the device was submitted in 1997 and later awarded in 1998. The device is known today as the PetroLiminator® System.
To gain acceptance of the PetroLiminator System by the maritime industry, EnSolve’s management believed the system needed to be approved by both the USCG and International Maritime Organization (IMO). Therefore, the Company hired the appropriate personnel in 1999 and conducted rigorous testing to conform to the regulatory standards for an approved shipboard oil water separator. In February 2000, EnSolve was granted approval by both the U.S.C.G. and IMO for the PetroLiminator System. In 2006, EnSolve re-certified the PetroLiminator system to meet the current MEPC 107(49) standards. To date, the PetroLiminator System is the only U.S.C.G. and IMO approved biomechanical oil water separator in the world. The system has been used on a variety of ship platforms including cruise ships, oil tankers, passenger ferries, oil exploration vessels, off-shore drill rigs, ore carriers, Ro Ro’s, and government vessels.