An Industrial Membrane System Suitable for Distributed Used Oil Re-Refining

Award Information
Agency: Department of Energy
Branch: N/A
Contract: DE-FG02-11ER90176
Agency Tracking Number: 97012
Amount: $996,811.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 09 c
Solicitation Number: DE-FOA-0000676
Solicitation Year: 2012
Award Year: 2012
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2012-08-08
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2014-08-07
Small Business Information
1155 William Pitt Way, Pittsburgh, PA, 15238-1368
DUNS: 802071662
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: Y
Principal Investigator
 Paul Liu
 (412) 292-4168
Business Contact
 Paul Liu
Title: Dr.
Phone: (412) 292-4168
Research Institution
Nationwide about 2.4 billion gallons of lubricants are consumed annually for automotive crankcase (about 58%), industrial processes, machine lubrication, mining, and others. About 1 billion gallons/yr is currently collected as waste oil, equivalent to1-1.5% of annual US crude oil import volume. Presently, about 9% of the collected used oil is re-refined at six facilities in US. The majority of this resource is currently burned as fuel. A report issued by the DOE in 2006 in response to The Energy Policy Act of 2005 Section 1838 highlights that the major impediment to expanding lube oil re-refining is investment costs required to design and construct new facilities for re-refining. According to the literature, about $40million in front end capital investment is required for a 30 million gallon per year (MGY) re-refining facility. This explains why the capital investment cost is listed as the primary impediment for expanding current re-refining capacity. Media and Process Technology Inc has been involved in the re-refining of waste oil using an innovative separation process which does not involve phase separation and hydrotreating as in the conventional technology. Thus, the re-refining facility can be designed and constructed in a small scale and modular operation without paying an economy of scale penalty. This not only reduces the front end capital investment per facility, but makes it uniquely suitable for regional re-refining operations to match waste oil supplies, as opposed to the conventional technology requiring a centralized operation to justify its large capital investment. A clean in place (CIP) methodology with our specially formulated cleaner package was developed to restore the flux of our ceramic membranes severely and irreversibly fouled during used oil processing, overcoming a key barrier to the commercial viability of this re-refining process. In addition, a rapid QA/QC strategy for used oil feedstock characterization and suitability for re-refining was developed. Process was demonstrated at the pilot scale in four months of continuous operation. In addition, the CIP is considered universal for oil filtration applications; several generic energy saving opportunities have been identified, which can benefit from the industrial membrane system equipped with the CIP we developed. We plan to expand our existing re-refining pilot operation to a semi-works facility to demonstrate the performance and economics of our upgraded re-refining process for petroleum-based waste oil. Then, we plan to establish the 1st regional re-refining center with our operational partner to showcase the technology and process and in parallel begin the deployment of the regional centers nationwide. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Our re-refining technology could positively impact the national energy consumption profile via an economically driven approach, potentially resulting in a 1% reduction in crude oil imports and significant reduction in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Nationwide, waste oil re-refining with this technology is expected to create job opportunities. Further, the technology is readily exportable.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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