What Happens to Grease/Lubrication Waste?


Not many people know that lubrication systems manufacturers and suppliers are doing their bit to help the environment in an ingenious way

As we discussed in one of our previous posts, they do so through relatively obscure but surprisingly eco-friendly machine components

Called automatic waste grease lubrication systems, those significantly advantageous machine parts keep other parts lubricated using recycled waste grease. They’re used by various industries. There’s the construction industry, which uses them as automatic earthmoving lubrication systems. There’s also the sugar cane industry, which uses them as automatic sugar cane equipment grease lubrication systems.

While automatic waste grease lubrication systems are designed to help reduce waste, they still generate some. Does that mean they aren’t really environment friendly? 

No, it doesn’t. Not only is the amount of waste they generate tiny compared to other sources, but many companies obtain, process and dispose of grease/lubrication waste which ensure their environmental impact is as small as possible

Here’s exactly what happens to grease/lubrication waste from automatic waste grease lubrication systems:

Step 1: Collection

Collecting grease/lubrication waste from automatic waste grease lubrication systems is surprisingly simple. You just need some portable filter carts and lots of waste oil drums.

Also called portable filtration system carts, portable filter carts are compact, easy-to-operate and self-contained filtration systems. They’re made up of a wheeled, heavy-duty frame; a couple of filters and a long hose. Here are some examples.

To collect the grease/lubrication waste, first, the filtration system is connected to the automatic waste grease lubrication systems’ drains. The grease/lubrication waste is then drawn out into the waste oil drums.

Making use of sump oil is becoming increasingly popular due to its environmental benefits. It’s common practice now, but raw waste oil does contain hazardous contaminants. To prevent those harmful substances from finding their way into the environment and wreaking havoc, protocols are put in place.

For example, to prevent spills, either spill-containing pallets are used or underground spill-containment reservoirs are built. As a general rule, the containers must be able to house the largest volume or 10% of the total.

Step 2: Treatment

Apart from harmful substances, sump oil contains water, which can damage machinery. To make it safe and suitable for re-use, it goes through a treatment process:

  • Dewatering. Also called pretreatment, dewatering is the stage where the water that found its way into the oil is removed. This is done by letting the sump oil stand in a tank while the water drops to the bottom.
  • Filtering and Demineralisation. In this stage, any solids, inorganic material or additives present in the sump oil are removed. These are taken out by mixing the oil with sulfuric acid and then heating it to about 60 °C in a tank. The particles settle at the bottom and drained away.
  • Propane Deasphalting. This stage is the first of the 2 steps of actually producing the recycled lubricating grease/oil. This is achieved using 3 connected columns, propane and heat. 
  • Distillation. This is the second and last step of actually producing the recycled lubricating grease/oil. Here the oil is boiled to physically separate its components: gases, gasoline and the heavier lubricating oil.  

Step 3: Disposal

Although it’s called disposal, this step doesn’t involve disposing of any of the used oil

As we already made clear, oil is harmful to the environment. So it’s recycled into lubricant for automatic waste grease lubrication systems instead. The waste water is reused for cooling and washing. Certain businesses need lots of water to run smoothly, so recycled water is needed now as much as recycled oil. Only the slurry of particles removed from the sump oil is actually disposed of.

It’s possible for businesses to generate even less waste this way in the near future. A growing number of them get help from third parties, like suppliers, to come up with viable fluid maintenance programs. Such partnerships are advancing as rapidly as the development of better and better waste treatment technology. That includes automatic waste grease lubrication systems. So you can bet users, manufacturers and suppliers are making a significant contribution to saving the environment.