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    Default Used Oil Management

    I've learned a ton from this forum over the last few months so I thought I'd try to give back a bit.

    My "day job" (for now!) is as a biochemist in an in-house environmental laboratory supporting a CWT/Industrial Pretreatment wastewater plant, non-hazardous waste disposal, and energy-from-waste operation. I worked with the Wisconsin DNR and EPA Region 5 to develop this company's Used Oil Management plan a few years ago so I've got a very good handle on the regulatory agencies' attitudes on interpretation and enforcement.

    I deal with CNC coolants all day every day on the back side (we crack the emulsions and recover/sell the oil), and if you have any questions about best practices for characterization/management, or regulatory concerns, I can answer them.

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    What's the governmental thoughts on "Waste oil burners" ?

    I see them in every garage around here, some pretty large dealerships as well.

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    Jumping into the deep end!

    First of all, understand that there are state laws that can be more stringent than the federal laws. Also, different EPA Regions have slightly different takes on these things, but I will give the federal level overview. There are also different terms used in different states.

    The 30,000 foot view is that shops can burn their own (generated in-house) used oil for energy recovery in units that do not have to be approved or licensed.

    So there are two types of recovered used oil when it comes to burning for energy recovery - "on specification" and "off specification." For professional burners, the rules get pretty complex. For a shop burning their own used oil (or in Wisconsin it can also be from local "household DIY-ers" and some farmers) generally they are exempt from the specifications, or from making a claim about the specification status, so long as they aren't burning hazardous waste. An example of the used oil being hazardous waste would be a shop that mixes halogenated solvents into their used oil (say, you've got a maintenance guy that cleans parts using halogenated brake cleaner containing tetrachloroethene and dumps that into a used oil drum somewhere in the shop). Basically, if the contamination is from a source other than the direct use of the oil for its lubricative properties, it is considered mixing. To delve even deeper, in Wisconsin a Very Small Quantity Generator (the feds call this a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator or CESQG) is actually allowed to mix hazardous waste into their used oil and it remains used oil and exempt as such. Confusing!

    Now, if a shop is burning used oil that was *not* generated on-site, that would be subject to the specification rules, and all the additional reporting and handling requirements therein.

    This stuff is clear as mud so I hope that is understandable? If not please ask additional questions and I can try to clarify.

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    When a shop disposes of there old coolant .What does the waste company do with it how is it treated and disposed of.

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    Concerning used motor oil, anyone know a way to get the carbon to precipitate out so the oil is clear again? I remember seing a news report decades ago about a company that had figured it out, they demonstraded a graduated column filled with motor oil, added a few drops of ??? and the carbon instantly started sinking to the bottom leaving the oil clear. I've searched internet several times and the only thing I have found is that mixing motor oil and MEK 50/50 will do it, but then you have to distill and condense the MEK for re-use. The idea of distilling MEK sounds just a wee bit too dangerous for me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    Concerning used motor oil, anyone know a way to get the carbon to precipitate out so the oil is clear again? I remember seing a news report decades ago about a company that had figured it out, they demonstraded a graduated column filled with motor oil, added a few drops of ??? and the carbon instantly started sinking to the bottom leaving the oil clear. I've searched internet several times and the only thing I have found is that mixing motor oil and MEK 50/50 will do it, but then you have to distill and condense the MEK for re-use. The idea of distilling MEK sounds just a wee bit too dangerous for me.
    There are companies who "re-refine" used oils. I'd guess that's where the various dump (X) here tanks at our recycling center end up. NFW I want to try it at home, MEK, magic pills, centrifuges, retorts, or no. They have to have serious amounts, good equipment, lots of experience, and a ready source to keep 'em coming for it to pay-off.

    Where does it go afterwards? One place, 'coz I once knew a distributor who had it house-branded in 55 US gal drums, is to third-world economies to keep everything from old sugar-cane mill equipment to rust-bucket tramp cargo ships operating on a shoestring budget.

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    What is a good way to crack the emulsions of coolant? I've tried salt, with no sucess, and evaporating the water out of coolant prior to disposal in the local council 'waste oil' tank is expensive in my cool climate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Finsta View Post
    Jumping into the deep end!

    First of all, understand that there are state laws that can be more stringent than the federal laws. Also, different EPA Regions have slightly different takes on these things, but I will give the federal level overview. There are also different terms used in different states.

    The 30,000 foot view is that shops can burn their own (generated in-house) used oil for energy recovery in units that do not have to be approved or licensed.

    So there are two types of recovered used oil when it comes to burning for energy recovery - "on specification" and "off specification." For professional burners, the rules get pretty complex. For a shop burning their own used oil (or in Wisconsin it can also be from local "household DIY-ers" and some farmers) generally they are exempt from the specifications, or from making a claim about the specification status, so long as they aren't burning hazardous waste. An example of the used oil being hazardous waste would be a shop that mixes halogenated solvents into their used oil (say, you've got a maintenance guy that cleans parts using halogenated brake cleaner containing tetrachloroethene and dumps that into a used oil drum somewhere in the shop). Basically, if the contamination is from a source other than the direct use of the oil for its lubricative properties, it is considered mixing. To delve even deeper, in Wisconsin a Very Small Quantity Generator (the feds call this a Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generator or CESQG) is actually allowed to mix hazardous waste into their used oil and it remains used oil and exempt as such. Confusing!

    Now, if a shop is burning used oil that was *not* generated on-site, that would be subject to the specification rules, and all the additional reporting and handling requirements therein.

    This stuff is clear as mud so I hope that is understandable? If not please ask additional questions and I can try to clarify.

    OK, so - take the "business" out of that loop, and say that you have one in your personal "toy" shed at home. Now what? (You are likely not "personally" generating that much.)

    Either way - as long as you can buy them commercially, it would seem OK to use as long as your insurance company is OK with it. Likely the same rating as having a wood stove or a set of torches around...

    ???


    On to new business:

    I have a chum that has a few totes of old coolant around, and he has tried to crack it. I forget now what he was trying. I think it was something that I had read on here, but it wasn't working for him.

    You say that you are cracking it, would you care to disclose how?



    ------------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monarchist View Post
    NFW I want to try it at home, MEK, magic pills, centrifuges, retorts, or no.
    I have an endless supply of used motor oil, and a need for massive amounts of heat, just got to figure out a way to make a problem a solution. If I mix well filtered MO 50/50 with fuel oil it burns well in the furnace, but leaves a nasty residue that needs to be cleaned frequently. Only way that I can think to distill the MEK out of the oil is with a solvent distiller, but A. most are not large enough for the size batches I would want to run, B. that is a lot of MEK. and C. I would not want it anywhere near my home or shop.

    I've looked at the centrifuges, they do a pretty good job, but the oil is still jet black with sub micron carbon particles, have not tried any centrifuged oil in the furnace yet. Not that I'm a chemist, but there has to be a way to get the carbon particles to clump together so they fall out of suspension.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    I have an endless supply of used motor oil, and a need for massive amounts of heat, just got to figure out a way to make a problem a solution. If I mix well filtered MO 50/50 with fuel oil it burns well in the furnace, but leaves a nasty residue that needs to be cleaned frequently. Only way that I can think to distill the MEK out of the oil is with a solvent distiller, but A. most are not large enough for the size batches I would want to run, B. that is a lot of MEK. and C. I would not want it anywhere near my home or shop.

    I've looked at the centrifuges, they do a pretty good job, but the oil is still jet black with sub micron carbon particles, have not tried any centrifuged oil in the furnace yet. Not that I'm a chemist, but there has to be a way to get the carbon particles to clump together so they fall out of suspension.
    Why not just BUY a proper "Waste oil burner" ?

    No diluting 50/50, no messing with MEK, and no insurance
    problems.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    there has to be a way to get the carbon particles to clump together so they fall out of suspension.
    Surely there is. Just not one that leaves any savings for YOU at your level. You might have a heavy supply for Joe Average, but a mere rounding-error for even a SMALL re-refiner.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Finsta View Post
    My "day job" (for now!) is as a biochemist in an in-house environmental laboratory supporting a
    CWT/Industrial Pretreatment wastewater plant, non-hazardous waste disposal, and energy-from-waste
    operation. I worked with the Wisconsin DNR and EPA Region 5 to develop this company's Used Oil
    Management plan a few years ago so I've got a very good handle on the regulatory agencies' attitudes
    on interpretation and enforcement.
    Working with the WI-EPA will challenge your ability to maintain your sanity.

    I work in petro-chemical industry, I have considerable experience in the
    formulation of metalworking fluids and industrial lubricants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rand View Post
    What is a good way to crack the emulsions of coolant? I've tried salt, with no sucess, and evaporating the water out of coolant prior to disposal in the local council 'waste oil' tank is expensive in my cool climate.
    Acid and alum will do a better job if you want to split the emulsion, assuming you have an emulsion. I had a customer a number of years ago waste a lot of time and money trying to split a synthetic fluid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    If I mix well filtered MO 50/50 with fuel oil it burns well in the furnace, but leaves a nasty residue that needs to be cleaned frequently.
    Yes, that is normal and expected, the ash is from the engine oil, there are metallo-organics used in engines oils. As the oil is burned the metals are oxidized and end up as ash. Welcome to the world of used oil burners, some designs work better at handling this than others.

    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    Only way that I can think to distill the MEK out of the oil is with a solvent distiller, but A. most are not large enough for the size batches I would want to run, B. that is a lot of MEK. and C. I would not want it anywhere near my home or shop.
    WTF are you talking about? How is MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) getting in the oil, you will most likely earn a Darwin award trying to distill MEK.

    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    I've looked at the centrifuges, they do a pretty good job, but the oil is still jet black with sub micron carbon particles, have not tried any centrifuged oil in the furnace yet. Not that I'm a chemist, but there has to be a way to get the carbon particles to clump together so they fall out of suspension.
    I think you are trying to clean out all the contamination out of the oil prior to burning it for the BTU value. Let me list the reason why that is of no value and generally silly.
    1) You will spend orders of magnitude more money "cleaning" it up than the money you will save in just running fuel oil, propane, natural gas hell even going will electric heat will be cheaper.
    2) Short of vacuum distillation (re-refining) the used engine oil you will never get all the additive, combustion by-products, dirt, debris, oxidation products out of it.
    3) Vacuum distillation is about 60% efficient (at best), so if you start with 100 gallons of used engine oil, you will get about 60 gallons of clean oil and 40 gallons of concentrated wastes that you will still have to dispose of.
    4) Chemical engineers struggle to do this, also they struggle to make money even when crude was $120+ a barrel, BTW a US Barrel, oil is 42 US gallons, in case you did not know that.

    So your options, buy a commercial sold heater that is designed to handle waste oils. Generally you don't need to dilute it with fuel oil, that you have to buy. Good commercial units have filtration, you will need to change filter as recommended to keep the oil flowing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shade Tree Welder View Post
    BTW a US Barrel, oil is 42 US gallons, in case you did not know that.
    Huh? Confused me. Thot the most-common drum was 55 US Gallons same-same 44 (old) Imperial Gallons. Metric stuff already someone else's Day Job, so I don't have to care.

    Is there a global standard for air space?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monarchist View Post
    Huh? Confused me. Thot the most-common drum was 55 US Gallons same-same 44 (old) Imperial Gallons. Metric stuff already someone else's Day Job, so I don't have to care.

    Is there a global standard for air space?
    Oil is sold in 42US gallon barrels worth. It's an historic thing. Probably related to re-filling (crap American) beer barrels or something. 45Gallon/208 litre containers are modern...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Rand View Post
    Oil is sold in 42US gallon barrels worth. It's an historic thing. Probably related to re-filling (crap American) beer barrels or something. 45Gallon/208 litre containers are modern...
    So the "usual sources" confirm.

    And I'll be damned. Sitting on Texaco => CVX stock for longer than some folk here have been sitting on anything at all, and didn't know that. Not that I had to do to deposit a dividend check, but still..

    PM at work!

    Thank you for that.

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    Last time I bought some crude oil (down near Pithole, on the back way into
    oil city)

    I recall drill stem being 33' sections, not 20', like most pipe is.

    And then there is "Pin" & "Box" designations.

    Tools called "Slips" and "Elevators".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Monarchist View Post
    Where does it go afterwards? One place, 'coz I once knew a distributor who had it house-branded in 55 US gal drums, is to third-world economies to keep everything from old sugar-cane mill equipment to rust-bucket tramp cargo ships operating on a shoestring budget.
    Grand Auto used to sell it in one-gallon cans. When I had a Corvair I gave up on the quart size new oils and went to recycled waste oil by the gallon.

    Maybe a good plan for Detroit diesels as well

    Speaking of diesels, besides the waste oil burner, a lot of people have had good success by filtering used motor oil then adding at a 30% ratio to diesel fuel then burning that in their truck or farm equipment. The common rail stuff not as much, but older diesels don't seem to mind.

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    The original formula Tap Magic (say circa 1985) was very good at spliting the coolant emulsion.


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