Paper Title
Onuigbo Arinze Jude
Engineering, Health, Pure and Applied Sciences

Nigeria has joined the league of countries seeking for alternatives to fossil fuels. Lubricating oil finds several applications in a technologically advanced economy; Lubricating mineral oil has a petroleum origin: therefore it is a precious product that can and must be ecologically recovered in order to save a non-renewable source of energy. Waste oil is almost totally re-usable, and presents different characteristics according to its origin: for example, the waste oil coming from the automotive sector generally can be used for the production of re-refined base oil, and also the one coming from industry, even if in lower percentages. This is suggested because developing countries are yet to enforce environmentally friendly automobile workshops and mechanic practice. If all automobile repair works in different cities are confined to mechanic villages, collection, preservation, recycling, and reuse of spent oil will become effective. The goal is to stop the habit of disposing spent automobile oil on the ground, which results in excessive trace metal pollution of topsoil and insecurity of food products in the affected areas. Beside environmental quality, business and employment opportunities will improve. Small-scale refining or reprocessing of used oil in mechanic villages is lucrative and recycling plants are affordable and available. My analysis indicates strong environmental benefits and economic value. Another benefit derivable from re-lubricant production include income generation for its owners, optimal utilization of oil resources, employment generation and the reduction in social vices like robbery, wandering, drug pushing and smuggling.

Changed oil, reprocessing, re-refining, used oil regeneration


Technology scenario is a prospect in any developing country. However, Nigeria suffers from an ironic contradiction. It is arguably the only crude oil producing country that imports petrochemicals. This fact often blinds foreign interests to the potential inherent in the Nigerian economy. In addition, the country suffers from a bad reputation for safety. Base oil is produced by means of refining crude oil. This means that the crude oil is heated in order that various distillates can be separated from one another. During the heating process, light and heavy hydrocarbons are separated – the light ones can be refined to make petrol and other fuels while the heavier ones are suitable for bitumen and base oils. As the world population increases, the energy consumption also increases. In any nation, energy is the most fundamental requirement for human existence and activities (Ribeiro et al., 2011). Unfortunately, the non-renewable energy sources that contribute over 86% of the global energy supply are depleting (Atadashi et al., 2011). Waste mineral oils are the result of the use of lubricating oils: most of them are consumed during their use while the remaining part represents waste oil.  Lubricating oil finds several applications in a technologically advanced economy. According to the estimates of Europa lube, the Association in charge of harmonizing and publishing European lubricants statistics, 49% is used in the automotive sector, 37% is used by industry, while the remaining 14% is represented by base oils used like raw materials.

During its use, the lubricating oil undergoes chemical-physical transformations that make it no more suitable to perform the functions it was originally intended for and they require its replacement.  Lubricating oil with greater amounts of such contaminants as organic oxidation products, aging materials, soot, wear debris and other dirt may not fully meet the demands and thus must be replaced. They are called used, spent or waste oils and should be collected and recycled in order to prevent the environment pollution and to preserve natural resources. In recent decades a number of innovative re-refining technologies have been developed that promise to solve technical, economic and environmental problems associated with used oil recycling. The current technology in re-refining is based on sophisticated unit operations, for example, special chemical pretreatment, specific vacuum distillation, extraction and hydrogenation. From an energy point of view, the re-refining of waste oil to manufacture a base oil conserves more energy than reprocessing the waste oil for use as a fuel. The energy required to manufacture re-refined oil from used oil is only one-third of the energy required to refine crude oil to produce virgin base oil. Therefore, re-refining is considered by many as a preferred option in terms of conserving resources, as well as minimizing waste and reducing damage to the environment.

Lubricating mineral oil has a petroleum origin: therefore it is a precious product that can and must be ecologically recovered in order to save a non-renewable source of energy. Waste oil is almost totally reusable, even if it presents different characteristics according to its origin: for example, the waste oil coming from the automotive sector generally can be used for the production of re-refined base oil, and also the one coming from industry, even if in lower percentages. Particularly, if it is used for re-refining, 1 kg and a half of used oil produces 1 kg of high quality base oil besides other oil products (gasoil, fuels, fluxed bitumen, etc.), small quantities of not polluting residues disposed of in the observance of the environmental regulations.The removal, transportation and aggregation of used oils for disposal or re-use is controlled by legislation in some countries with fiscal adjustments designed to ensure safe and effective handling and disposal. Most countries now legislate to ensure that used oil from all recognised points of generation (e.g. factories, vehicle workshops, etc.) is correctly handled and disposed of.  Most European countries have different laws and regulations for the collection of used oils, normally based on the European Union Directives (EUD). All, however, maintain the basic principle that the generator of used oil is responsible for its safe collection and storage on site and for the eventual authorised removal. Segregating the different types of used oils (and perhaps other used fluids from vehicles) does enhance the inherent value of the waste for reprocessing and reduces the levels of contamination in the final product. Uncontrolled collection of many different types and qualities of used oils makes reprocessing significantly more difficult and expensive, and it increases the levels of contamination in the final products of recycling.

Throughout the EU, it is illegal for an individual to throw away used oil; it must be returned to a proper collection point. However, it is clear that used oil is still disposed of illegally in all European countries, although the situation varies considerably from country to country. Excluding government subsidies, the basic value of unsegregated used oils is broadly related to the cost of industrial fuel because used oil is often used as a substitute fuel. That value establishes a firm economic platform from which any environmentally beneficial improvements can be costed and calculated. Improvements in the segregation of used oils improve the value. Even if it is estimated that less than 30% of European motorists currently change their own car engine oil, Do It Yourself (DIY) oil changes represent a great potential risk for the environment because the correct disposal of the used oil is dependent on the behaviour of individuals and the ready availability of appropriate facilities. Yet there is little enforcement of regulations covering the used oil produced as a result of a DIY oil change. There is a need to maximise the volume of used oil being returned to authorised disposal sites from individual DIY oil changes. Logically, improvement could be achieved by encouraging the establishment of many more local collection centers for used oil. However, it should be noted that DIY oil changes are not the whole problem. To put this sector into context, we estimate that the total DIY market for engine oils is in the order of 300 kt/year. Of this, about 200 kt is potentially recoverable and this represents only about 20% of the 1.1 million tons of used oil unaccounted for.  Currently, only the lowest quality blending of used oils is collected at public facilities. The higher value, properly segregated collection of used oils is only possible at vehicle workshops, industrial businesses and other fully equipped facilities.


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