Fuel Management

Oil Initiatives Government Fleets Should Consider

Conducting periodic oil analysis, using re-refined or recycled oil, and revisiting oil filter usage will lessen an operation’s impact on the environment, extend maintenance cycles, and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

May 2011, Government Fleet - Feature

by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

 
According to Joseph Shupe, president of CAP Oil Change Systems, the company has designed oil dispensers to reduce the time it takes to change engine oil and also help keep oils clean and safe.
  According to Joseph Shupe, president of CAP Oil Change Systems, the company has designed oil dispensers to reduce the time it takes to change engine oil and also help keep oils clean and safe.

At A Glance
Benefits of using re-refined and recycled oil include:
  • Preventing waste.
  • Lowering environmental impact.
  • Extending maintenance cycles.
  • Reducing reliance on foreign oil.

Maximizing oil life and quality not only offers fleets potential cost savings, but also helps lower an operation's environmental footprint. From using recycled or re-refined oil, to conducting oil analyses, to using innovative oil filters, all fleets should revisit their oil initiatives at least annually.

Government Fleet magazine recently talked with a few industry experts about why it's time for fleet operations to revisit their oil programs.

Rosemead Oil's Smart Oil Lubricants are made with top quality renewed base oils and additives to provide equal or superior finished oil products.
Rosemead Oil's Smart Oil Lubricants are made with top quality renewed base oils and additives to provide equal or superior finished oil products.

Recycled vs. Re-refined Oil: What's the Difference?

Recycled oil is reusing oil for various uses including re-refining and burning, while re-refined oil is using the oil as a lubricant.

The benefits of using re-refined oil go far beyond engine lubrication. Because crude oil is a nonrenewable resource, using renewed oil prevents waste, reduces environmental impact, extends maintenance cycles, saves time and money, and reduces reliance on foreign oil, according to advocates.

While re-refined oil has gone through the refining process a second time and can be used as vehicle motor oil again, used dirty oil can no longer perform its original lubrication job.

It takes one gallon of used motor oil to create up to 3 quarts of re-refined oil, according to some companies. And if all motor oil in the United States was re-refined, there would be enough re-refined oil to maintain about 8 million vehicles per year.

Hector Barragan, Smart Oil sales coordinator of Rosemead Oil, focuses on the company's marketing and sales efforts and is an expert on the merits of using recycled and re-refined oil, as well as oil analysis. The Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based company, which was established in 1952, has marketed re-refined oil for more than 25 years and operates with a total tank storage capacity of 400,000 gallons.

According to Barragan, now is the perfect time to stop drilling oil and instead use renewable oil. "By doing this, operations can cut their carbon footprint by 50 percent," he said, noting that re-refined oils are less expensive.

Rosemead Oil currently works with fleets in California in an effort to get them certified as a green fleet with the state. The company also provides oil analysis services. Barragan said his company is currently working with cities to help them transition to using renewable oil.

"The cities are the ones that are out there, the most visible," he said. "Why not start with them, help them, and then have them help educate others on renewable oil?"

According to Barragan, a potential partnership is in the works with Cerritos College, which operates a mechanics program. Rosemead Oil is working out details to give the college free renewable oil and education on the oil so that graduates from the mechanics program can then move into a position with knowledge of renewable oils.

While most fleets want to be green or help out the environment, many don't do that through their current oil initiatives, and they don't know the next step to take to get there, according to Barragan.

"We find that no one really knows what the next step is," he said. "We're really in the stage of education about recycled and re-refined oil right now."

One way of educating fleets is to offer renewable oil samples and analysis. Barragan said that once management sees the positive results, they're usually ready to move forward. The biggest challenge surrounding the re-refined versus traditional oil debate is mindset.

"Some managers think re-refined oil is going to be bad for their engines, but we stand behind the product 110 percent," Barragan said.

Rosemead Oil's Smart Oil Lubricants are equal or superior than finished products made from crude oil just extracted from the ground, according to the company.
Rosemead Oil's Smart Oil Lubricants are equal or superior than finished products made from crude oil just extracted from the ground, according to the company.

The Time Has Come for Green Oil Alternatives

According to Curt Knapp, vice president - Oil Re-refining Sales and Marketing for Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., there is a big difference between "recycled" and "re-refined" oil.

"Recycled oil includes recovery of oil and reusing it for any value, including re-refining and burning it as a fuel (the two main uses)," he said. "Re-refining is refining the used oil again to reuse as a lubricant."

Knapp pointed out that re-refined oil can provide superior performance and protection for valuable assets. In fact, after an independent firm conducted field engine tests pitting two top-selling brands against Safety-Kleen's new re-refined product EcoPower, the re-refined oil proved either as good or better on all key measures, Knapp said.

"Recycling/re-refining conserves valuable, non-renewable resources; it takes far less energy to re-refine the lubricant from used oil compared to crude, and when you reuse motor oil instead of burning it for a one-time energy use, there is substantial reduction in greenhouse gases associated with those used oil gallons," Knapp said.

Since most fleets are looking to reduce the impact their fleets have on the environment, using re-refined oil is a no-brainer, he added.

Safety-Kleen has supplied high-­quality engine oils to the U.S. military; other federal, state, and municipal agency fleets; and many transit authority fleets for two decades. The company's re-refined oils have been used in vehicles under some of the most demanding conditions imaginable, and there has never been an oil-related failure, Knapp said.

"The time has finally come for a high-quality, truly green alternative in the engine oil category," he said.

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