Refining Used Lubricating Oils: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Refining Used Lubricating Oils

1st Edition

By James Speight, Douglas I. Exall

CRC Press

466 pages | 47 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2014-04-07
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Used lubricating oil is a valuable resource. However, it must be re-refined mainly due to the accumulation of physical and chemical contaminants in the oil during service. Refining Used Lubricating Oils describes the properties of used lubricating oils and presents ways these materials can be re-refined and converted into useful lubricants as well as other products. It provides an up-to-date review of most of the processes for used lubricating oil refining that have been proposed or implemented in different parts of the world, and addresses feasibility and criteria for selecting a particular process.

The book begins with an overview of lubricating oil manufacturing, both petroleum-based and synthetic-based. It reviews the types and properties of lubricating oils and discusses the characteristics and potential of used lubricating oils. The authors describe the basic steps of used oil treatment including dehydration, distillation or solvent extraction, and finishing. They explore the combustion of used oil for use as fuel, covering chemistry and equipment, fuel oil properties, and combustion emissions.

The book considers alternative processing options such as refinery processing and re-refining. It also reviews the major refining processes that have been suggested over the years for used oil. These include acid/clay, simple distillation, combinations of distillation and hydrogenation, solvent extraction, filtration, and coking processes. The book addresses economic, life cycle assessment, and other criteria for evaluating the attractiveness of an oil recycling project, examining various costs and presenting an economic evaluation method using an Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded from the publisher’s website. The book concludes with a chapter offering insights on how to choose the most suitable process technology.

Table of Contents

Manufacture of Lubricating Oil


Base Oil Manufacture from Petroleum Sources


Composition and Properties


Synthetic Lubricating Oil

Base Oil Properties




Types and Properties of Lubricating Oil

Types of Lubricating Oils

Solid Lubricants and Greases

Use and Applications

Properties of Lubricating Oils

Use of Test Data


Used Lubricating Oils


Cause of Oil Degradation

Amount of Used Oils


Recycling and Re-Refining Capacities

Environmental Aspects of Used Oil Management

Converting Used Oil into Useable Oil


Composition and Treatment


Primary Treatment



Test Methods

Environmental Aspects


Combustion of Used Engine Oil


Direct Combustion: Use as a Fuel

Combustion Chemistry and Equipment

Fuel Oil Properties

Environmental Risks

Postcombustion Capture

Used Oil Combustion

Combustion with Heavy Fuel Oil

Combustion in Cement Kilns

Combustion in Hot-Mix Asphalt Plants


Alternative Processing Options


Refinery Processing


Regeneration Residues

Environmental Management


Refining Processes for Used Oil recycling to Base Oils or Fuels


The Acid/Clay Process

Simple Distillation and Predistillation Processes

Distillation/Clay Processes

Distillation/Hydrogenation Processes

Distillation/Solvent Extraction Processes

Hydrogenation/Distillation Processes

Distillation/Filtration/Hydrogenation Processes

Processes Producing Primarily a Fuel Product and Possibly a Base Oil Product

Other Processes


Economics and Other Evaluation Criteria


Recycled Oil Collection Costs

Capital Costs of the Plant

Operating Cost Considerations for the Plant

Economic Indicators

Excel Spreadsheet for a Recycling Plant

Economic Evaluation of a Small and Large Project

Discussion of Some Results of the Economic Evaluation

Comparison of Re-Refining with Production from Crude Oil


Choice of a Process Technology


Relevant Reports

Future Developments



Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C


About the Authors

James G. Speight earned a BSc and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Manchester, England. Since 1998, he has been employed at CD&W Inc. as a consultant/author/lecturer on energy and environmental issues. Dr. Speight has more than 40 years of experience in areas associated with the properties and recovery of reservoir fluids. His work has also focused on the environmental effects and remediation technologies related to fossil fuel and synthetic fuel processing. Dr. Speight is the author of more than 400 publications, reports, and presentations and has taught more than 70 courses. He is the author and coauthor of more than 50 books and bibliographies related to fossil fuels, synthetic fuels, biofuels, fuel processing, and environmental issues. He is also the recipient of several awards.

Douglas I. Exall, P.Eng., is an engineering consultant in oil and gas production and processing technologies. He received his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of Natal in South Africa. He has published journal articles, industrial R&D reports, conference papers, and patents, and has experience teaching in most areas of chemical engineering. Dr. Exall has worked as a research manager in the oil and gas industry and research organizations in Canada, and as a professor or adjunct professor at universities in several countries. His consulting work has included reviewing options for the re-refining of lubricating oils, the available processes and technologies, and their economic viability.

About the Series

Chemical Industries

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Chemistry / Industrial & Technical
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Chemical & Biochemical
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Environmental / Pollution Control
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Power Resources / Fossil Fuels