More Plant Managers Move to Recycling Waste Oil for Heat


Plant managers are increasingly considering the possibility of recycling waste oil as a way to fight rising energy costs, according to a new survey by Abanaki Corp., Cleveland, Ohio, a company in the business of oil skimming products.

In a recent survey, Abanaki found that 78% of respondents are struggling to find ways to reduce plant energy costs, and in the face of record-high fuel oil prices, 35% of respondents said they would consider burning waste oil to heat their plants.

Now that President Bush has called for new ways for Americans to reduce their addition to oil, the findings suggest that companies could be doing more to reduce winter heating bills. Although three quarters of the respondents said that their companies skim oil from their wastewater, only eight percent said that their plants already burn waste oil for heat.

Using an oil skimmer, companies can collect up to 40 gallons per hour of oil or grease from wastewater. When combined with an oil concentrator, the amount of water in the oil can be reduced to less than one percent in most cases, making the oil suitable for burning in a waste oil furnace or boiler.

“Plant managers should not let the money hidden in their wastewater go to waste,” said Abanaki president Tom Hobson. “Oil skimming cost effectively reclaims oil from wastewater, and as heating bills climb, they can save energy costs by burning it or selling it to a recycler.”

In addition, the survey uncovered a widely held misperception: 70% of respondents thought EPA regulations for plants burning their own used oil were more stringent than regulations for waste oil disposal. In fact, the regulations are more relaxed. The EPA supports the burning of used oil on site, because it prevents oil from entering the watershed and eliminates the risk of spills during transportation.

Because it usually has a thicker viscosity, used oil possesses more energy than #2 fuel oil and more than twice the energy value of LP gas or coal. Waste oils that can be burned for heat include almost any oil up to 50 S.A.E.: metal cutting oils, lube oil, crankcase oil, transmission and hydraulic fluid, #1 and #2 diesel fuel, vegetable oils and grease.

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