Oil recycling technology devised by UK expertsTuesday, April 5, 2011 16:29
British scientists have conceived new technology that enables motor oil to be recycled into fuel for use in the automotive sector.
Cambridge University researchers have discovered a method that sees high-grade aluminium materials from products such as toothpaste tubes used to recycle motor oil for workers within the car salvage industry.
Scientists at the institution have also tested the process of pyrolysis as a way of converting motor oil into fuel. Using this technique, oil is heated at high temperatures and generates a combination of liquids, gases and a minimal number of solids.
Cambridge University professor Howard Chase said: "The recovery of valuable oils using this process shows advantage over traditional processes for oil recycling and suggests excellent potential for scaling the process to the commercial level.
"Our results indicate that a microwave-heated process shows exceptional promise as a means for recycling problematic waste oil for use as fuel."
This could bring several benefits to specialists within the car industry, as it allows materials to be re-used rather than wasted, meaning that the environmental impact of running a vehicle is reduced and fuel supplies could be increased.
Experts estimate that billions of litres of old motor oil are produced when the oil of cars and trucks is changed, so Mr Chase's breakthrough could help to increase stocks of fuel worldwide, which will be particularly helpful for drivers in the current economic climate.
During his work, Mr Chase asked his students Su Shiung Lam and Alan Russell to combine samples of waste oil with a microwave-absorbent material before heating the concoction with microwave radiation. Consequently, it was found that the process could be adopted as a viable means of waste oil recycling.
The Cambridge University professor's findings come after researchers at Delft University of Technology discovered that the efficiency of fuel cells within electric vehicles could be enhanced by solid electrolyte material.