Assessing the Long Term Prospects for Re-Refiners

An overview of re-refining by Fabio Dalla Giovanna

If you talk about re-refining, the name conjures up many different things to many different people. To the re-refining industry it simply means to treat a waste rather than a crude oil fraction, and then to convert this waste into a high quality base oil.

At the centre of any re-refining operation is the aim of reducing plant troubleshooting and minimising plant downtime to maximise the yield and production emanating from re-refined oil. Plant operations are expensive to maintain and cause immense issues if they cannot be maximised to the full in order to achieve a satisfactory return on investment to their owners, and shareholders.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, re-refining makes sound economic sense. For every 42 gallons of crude oil, refining produces just 0.5 gallons of lubricant. Compare this with re-refining which turns 42 gallons of used

oil into 34 gallons of base oil. As well as saving money, re-refining also benefits

the environment with less harmful CO2 produced. Recycling waste oil produces 30% less harmful greenhouse gases. That means 600kg CO equivalent less per tonne of used oil in the atmosphere.

A study undertaken by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) found that used oil re-refining is environmentally friendly. It transforms a waste into a valuable product, avoids the depletion of natural resources and significantly reduces the carbon footprint of lubricants. Environmental protection and sustainability are key drivers for our policy-makers both in the European Union and in each member state. We have seen an increase in the focus of policymakers on waste oil recovery and its regeneration as hard targets for more and more countries to achieve.

The problems associated with oil are well

understood. From toxicity of transformer oil to corrosion of solvents and chloro- paraffins; from the pollution of additives caused by fuel oil leaks to the disposal costs of spent solvent disposal. Policy- makers have woken up to the problem associated with the safe handling and treatment of used oil.

Seventeen years ago I spoke about the problems associated with used oil. According to the laws of energy nothing can be created and nothing can be destroyed, we can only change its form from one type to another. Used oil is no exception. The pollutants present in waste oil cannot be destroyed but only removed/transformed from the oil. Therefore the segregation of raw material must be mandatory and the contaminants with other pollutants and/ or impurities must be forbidden and sanctions applied against it, as it does not accord with the core principles of the European Union.



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