Used Oil Re-Refineries
Compared to making lube oil from crude oil, it takes only half as much energy to make it from used oil with the Re-Refining process while the lube oil produced is of equal or better quality. The carbon footprint from this process is even less.
Did you know used oil can be re-refined into base stock for lubricating oil?
Cars are an indispensable fact of life for most of us. So, too, are abundant and clean supplies of drinking water. What we do with the used oil from our cars plays an important role in balancing our desire for convenient transportation with our desire for a clean and healthy environment today and for future generations.
We are all familiar with recycling newspapers, aluminum cans, glass and plastic bottles, but you may not be aware of the efforts of the petroleum industry and other groups to promote used motor oil recycling: providing convenient collection sites for the purpose of keeping used motor oil out of our waterways and ground water supplies and getting used oil into the recycling system.
Motor oil has value even after it has been drained from an engine. The oil you take to a collection center to be recycled saves energy. It can be reprocessed and used in furnaces for heat or in power plants to generate electricity for homes, schools, and businesses. It can also be sent to a refinery that specializes in processing used oil and re-refined into lubricating base oils that can be used to formulate engine oils meeting API specifications.
Used motor oil that is collected by "do-it-yourselfers" is critical to the used oil recycling system. Next time you change your own oil, remember, you can make a difference by recycling the oil from your car, truck, motorcycle, boat, recreational vehicle or lawnmower. By dropping off your used motor oil today you help prevent pollution and conserve energy for a safer and healthier tomorrow.
- Facts about Re-Refined Oil
What is Re-Refined Oil?
Re-refined oil is used motor oil that undergoes an extensive re-refining process to remove contaminants to produce a good-as-new base oil. This base oil is then sold to blenders who add additive packages to produce lubricants such as motor oil, transmission fluid, and grease. The main difference between re-refined and virgin oil products is that re-refined represents the responsible choice for the environment.
Are Re-Refined Lubricants Safe to Use?
Lubricants made from re-refined base stocks must undergo the same testing and meet the same standards as virgin lubricants in order to receive the certification of the American Petroleum Institute (API). Vehicle and engine manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and Detroit Diesel have issued warranty statements that allow the use of re-refined oil as long as it meets API standards. Many government and private fleets have used re-refined lubricants in their vehicles for years and report no difference in performance from virgin lubricants.
Why Use Re-Refined Oil?
Re-refined oil is good for the environment and it’s priced competitively to regular motor oil. Also, do-it-yourself oil changers “close the recycling loop” with re-refined oil by turning in their old oil and purchasing motor oil that has been used, re-refined, and put back on store shelves for reuse.
Buying re-refined oil reduces our dependence on imported oil, reduces the depletion of natural resources, eliminates waste material, and helps create jobs. By using and promoting the use of re-refined lubricants, you accomplish the following:
• Preserve a non-renewable resource—oil.
• Demonstrate your commitment to a cleaner environment through recycling and proper waste management.
• Help protect the environment against pollution.
Re-Refined Oil by the Numbers
It takes one gallon of used oil to produce 2.5 quarts of re-refined oil.
Using as an example a fleet of transportation, the General Services Department maintains approximately 7,000 vehicles with re-refined oil. In total, State agencies annually purchase approximately 189,890 gallons of re-refined oil.
If all used motor oil generated by the public was collected and re-refined, it would provide enough oil for more than 8 million cars each year if California was to do this program.
- Myths about Rerefined Oil
Myth #1: Rerefined oil is not of equal or sufficient quality compared to virgin oil.
Reality: Rerefined oil is the same quality as virgin oil. Oil does not break down; it simply gets dirty, additives become depleted and chemicals break down. The rerefining process cleans up the used oil and adds additives. Rerefined oils now carry the American Petroleum Institute (API) seal of certification.
Myth #2: Some buyers for large fleets specify brand names rather than oil performance criteria.
Reality: Brand names may simplify purchasing but they do not guarantee high-quality oil. If specification-based purchasing is utilized, buyers may be guaranteed specific oil qualities and rerefined oil will not be excluded.
Myth #3: Jurisdictions may have long-term lubrication contracts, and are unable to switch easily.
Reality: Long-term contracts generally have exemptions allowing for pilot projects and minor contract amendments. This flexibility can be used to set up an initial conversion of part of the fleet to rerefined oil.
Myth #4: There are gaps in the geographic availability of rerefined oil.
Reality: As the market grows for rerefined oil, so will the availability. As in any growing market, assured demand will encourage vendors to make increased supply available.
Myth #5: Major oil companies are opposed to rerefining because of their enormous capital investment in virgin oil.
Reality: Major oil companies, including Unocal, Chevron, ARCO, and Texaco, have all become involved in the rerefining market, often by purchasing independently rerefined base stock and manufacturing their own brand name of rerefined oil.
- Frequently-Asked Questions
What Is Rerefined Oil?
Rerefined base oil is the end product of a long process involving used oils. These oils are first cleansed of their contaminants--such as dirt, water, fuel, and used additives--through vacuum distillation. The oil is then hydrotreated to remove any remaining chemicals. This process is very similar to what traditional oil refineries do to remove base oil from crude. Finally, the rerefined base oil is combined with a fresh additive package by the blender.
Is Rerefined Oil Good As Virgin?
YES. Test after test has shown that an API certified rerefined oil is of equal or better quality than an oil made from a virgin base stock. API licensed rerefined oils must pass the same cold start and pumpability tests, rust corrosion tests, engine wear tests, high temperature oil thickening tests, deposit tests, and phosphorous tests that virgin oils do.
Will Rerefined Oil Affect My Warranty or Hurt My Engine?
NO AND NO. Vehicle and engine manufacturers such as Ford, GM, Chrysler and Mercedes Benz have all gone on record to state that using API-certified rerefined oil does not affect warranty coverage. In fact, Mercedes-Benz uses rerefined oil to fill new cars at their factories!
How Many Times Can Oil Be Rerefined?
Used oil can be rerefined over and over with no compromise in the quality of the lubricant. Remember: oil never wears out, it just gets dirty.
- Process: How Oil Is Rerefined
Step 1: Vacuum Distillation
1. Used oil arrives.
2. Rejection of inappropriate feedstock’s.
3. Chemical pretreatment.
4. Dehydration (water as steam is cooled and discharged to municipal sewage treatment).
5. Vacuum distillation. Asphalt flux is stripped off the bottom and sold for roofing materials. Gasoil is recovered as refinery fuel.
6. Lube oil distillates result.
Step 2: Hydrofinishing
7. Hydrotreating reactor
8. Hydrotreating reactor
9. Hydrotreating reactor
10. Fractionation results in 100-neutral base oil and 300-neutral base oil.
11. Transport to blender to make into finished lubricants.