Environmental Protection

Used oil tank

Case study: MetroParks Chooses to Recycle Used Oil, Not Wood

Used oil tank

Englewood MetroPark technician Richard Alder pumps the collected used oil from the holding tank into a bucket on Sept. 9, 2009.

Dave Spitler, an assistant park manager at Five Rivers MetroParks in greater Dayton, Ohio, was searching for a better way to heat buildings other than using wood-burning stoves. "There was a big cost factor in man hours to have staff members cut and split wood for the stoves," he explained.

MetroParks operates 99 fleet vehicles and 98 small motorized vehicles, including Gators and lawn mowers, that are used to maintain nearly 15,000 acres of park facilities. The disposal of used oil can be costly.

Tackling two problems at once, MetroParks chose to collect used motor oil from its service vehicles and recycle it to generate heat for an office building and workshop. "The Clean Burn furnace that we've installed is an economical and ecological solution for Five Rivers MetroParks." The organization purchased a Clean Burn 1500 furnace, which was installed in 2004. The unit and installation cost was $5,800.

Clean Burn, an Energy Star partner, manufactures used-oil furnaces, used-oil boilers, and used-oil recycling centers that generate free heat from motor oils and petroleum based fluids commonly used in all types of internal combustion engines. The company's engineering and manufacturing facility is located in Lancaster County, Pa., and features the latest in equipment and an on-site official Underwriters Laboratory testing lab.

Neighboring businesses and residents now are contributing their used motor oil to the program. MetroParks' storage tanks hold hundreds of gallons of recycled motor oil, which is pushed through a filter and pre-heated and then injected into the furnace and burned at 1,800 degrees. The high temperatures create low emissions (less than 1 percent allowable by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards) and generate enough heat to warm the park's 2,400-square-foot facility.

"I've sent oil recycle barrels to all MetroParks facilities to collect their used oil," Spitler said. "Each park saves money since they no longer have to pay anyone to properly dispose of the oil. We bring the full barrels to the central furnace area and replace them with empty barrels. This is a sensible solution that would be viable for other parks nationwide to adapt in order to save money and close the loop on recycling efforts."

According to Clean Burn, the typical payback on one of their units is between 24 and 36 months. There are 80,000 Clean Burn functional furnaces and boilers located throughout the world that burn millions of gallons of used oil each year on-site, at the point of generation. This volume would otherwise be transported on highway systems and pose a spill and/or contamination risk to the environment.

About the Author

Valerie Hunt is public relations specialist for Five Rivers MetroParks.

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