Superlube Heats Lube Shop and Car Wash Water with Heat from Used Oil

Reprinted with permission from The Daily Herald-Tribune, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada – January, 2001
by Mark Evans

Heating water to run two car washes and keeping the chill off several oil-change bays at today's energy prices would have most business owners cringing. But not Wade Bloomer, owner of the two Superlube locations in Grande Prairie, Alberta [Canada].

He has all the hot water he needs to wash cars, heat the shops and keep the ice off the pads in front of his buildings and, "we do not have a heat bill," he said.

Used oil-fueled boilers meet all his heating needs, making use of the old motor oil, transmission fluid and gear oil he has in abundance and would otherwise be paying to have hauled away.

Bloomer first saw the technology at a trade show before he built the first Superlube location at 100 Street and 95 Avenue five years ago. When the second Superlube at 100 Street and 124 Avenue went up three years ago, there was no question about installing the same system. He plans to use it again at a future location.

He estimates it cost 30 percent more to install than if he used a conventional source of energy. However, he's saving money on heating and the cost of getting rid of the used oil.

But he had no idea it would be paying off like it is now that natural gas prices have tripled from last year. "We were going with it but it wasn't that we thought we were smarter than anyone else but it's looking better all the time," he said.

The used oil is atomized with compressed air so it creates a super hot flame that burns cleanly, explains Howard Levens, president of Northwest Industrial Equipment, the distributor of the Shenandoah used oil heaters in Kent, Wash., that Bloomer is running.

Burning used oil conjures images of clouds of black smoke but the boilers meet all Canadian and Alberta emissions standards, he added. "There is no smoke because of the atomization process," he said. He compared that process to holding a match in front of the spray from an aerosol can, and the flame to that of an acetylene torch.

The heat from the boilers can be used in radiant floor and forced air heating systems and to heat water.

Levens has sold systems of various sizes to car dealers, quick lubes and bus facilities, he said. "People that are generating and collecting used oil." Used oil burners are only approved for industrial uses in Alberta and B.C. Legislation prohibits use in residential settings.

Levens has seen a 100 percent increase in sales, he added, "the way energy costs are in Canada and the U.S., we don't see for the remainder of 2001 any decrease."

Units range in price from around $6,000 to $23,000 Cdn. Smaller ones can burn as little as five litres of used oil an hour.

Levens receives calls regularly from Canadians interested in being dealers of the technology.

Bloomer has the largest used oil burner in Canada that he's aware of. It's capable of generating one million BTU and burns 24 litres of used oil an hour when operational. The used oil from the vehicles is collected in trays, which are pumped out into storage tanks once full. The oil is then pumped to the boiler. Bloomer is never short of fuel, in fact, he sometimes still has to have some used oil hauled away – especially in the summer when the boilers aren't running as much.

There is some additional maintenance but it's fairly simple, he said.

Over the years a few companies which knew he had the system installed asked about it but with the recent increases in natural gas prices Bloomer is expecting a lot more people will want to see the system.

"It's looking like we did the right thing," he said. "Certainly it pays for itself."

Shenandoah's WL-60 Boiler has a water capacity of 133 gallons, and comes in model sizes ranging from 235,000 – 500,000 BTU. It burns from 1.7 to 3.5 gallons per hour of used crankcase oil, transmission and hydraulic fluids, as well as other petroleum-based lubricants with weight combinations up to SAE 50. For smaller facilities, the L24 Boiler holds 55 gallons of water and is rated from 175,000 to 350,000 BTU. Both are designed for easy maintenance and reliable combustion.

Besides generating process hot water, Shenandoah's multi-oil fired boilers and commercial water heaters are an excellent choice for radiant floor heating.

Contact us to talk with a used oil heating specialist to discuss using waste oil to heat your lube shop and water for your car wash.

"It's looking like we did the right thing. Certainly it pays for itself."


Superlube's Columbia/Shenandoah WL-60 used oil boiler.

Superlube's Columbia/Shenandoah WL-60 used oil boiler.
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