Put the oomph back in your oil

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Pearce Wright, science editor for The Times of London, calls it "among the most important single innovations in energy conservation since the crisis of 1973."

It will provide 100,000 tons of top-grade lubricating oil a year. It will help cleanse the environment. It will save L10 million ($22 million) in the first two years of operation.

It is called "dieselclene," and it does just that: launders out the grit and glop from used diesel lubricating oil by absorbing them with a newly developed coagulant. The contaminants are then centrifuged out, leaving 90 gallons of good-as-new oil for each 100 gallons treated.

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Developed by scientists at British Rail four years ago, it has since been tested on 100 diesel locomotives and will soon be offered for use with trucks, buses, ships, and industrial engines. It should save up to 50 percent of diesel lubricant costs.

Unlike re-refining, which requires expensive facilities suitable only for large quantities of used oil, a dieselclene unit costing L50,000 ($110,000) will launder 100,000 gallons a year. Soon there may even be a fringe benefit: solid-fuel briquettes pressed out of the leftovers.

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