Trucks, loaders, forklifts — all heavy equipment has one thing in common: It generates an unending flow of used oil.

No matter what the business, if it uses heavy equipment, it has used oil and is probably paying high prices to have it hauled off-site for disposal.

Lime Creek Logging, of Grand Forks, B.C., Canada, was no exception. Generating approximately 15,000 liters of used oil each year, this contractor was paying dearly to have the oil from its trucks, loaders, excavators, and other equipment hauled away.

As industry knows, hauling does not provide protection against environmental mishaps and “cradle-to-grave” liability associated with off-site disposal. What individual companies may not know is that the used oil they are paying to have hauled away can actually be a valuable resource, providing for “free” heat generation.

Trying to trim Lime Creek’s hauling fees, owner Dale Mciver found a better use for his used oil. While sending some of the oil to be burned in a nearby used-oil-fired furnace, Mciver realized the benefits of the furnace and decided to investigate a similar system for Lime Creek.

Feel the burn

A CB-1800 furnace, manufactured by Clean Burn, Inc., Leola, Pa., was purchased and installed in the Lime Creek shop. The 185,000-Btuh unit currently runs 10 months a year, burning nearly half of Lime Creek’s annual 15,000 liters of used oil at a rate of 4.9 liters per hour.

The furnace generates enough heat to warm Lime Creek’s 40- by 60-ft shop, with 16-ft ceiling, 24 hrs a day.

“It’s a good way to do business,” imparts Mciver.

Before purchasing the furnace, Lime Creek had been heating its shop area by burning waste wood, which can cost $70 to $80 per cord. However, for Lime Creek the arrangement was cost effective because, as a logging company, the waste wood was free.

What was not free was the amount of time and attention the wood-burning stove required. In order to keep the shop warm throughout the day, someone had to be available to stoke the stove.

Initially, Lime Creek had two seemingly unconnected problems — the cost of off-site used oil hauling and the hassle of heating the shop, both of which were solved with one piece of equipment — the used-oil furnace.

“Now,” remarks Mciver, “the heat is on when we get here in the morning, and it’s a warmer heat than we had before. It’s a lot more convenient and a lot less time consuming.”

Clean Burn’s line of used-oil furnaces range from 140,000 to 500,000 Btuh. The company also offers used-oil boiler systems, in sizes up to 700,000 Btuh, that completely burn used oil to produce hot washwater and radiant in-floor heat, the company says.

The used-oil furnaces and boilers burn used crankcase oil, transmission fluid, hydraulic oil, and #2 fuel oils. The heat or hot washwater generated from the furnaces and boilers is applicable to a variety of industries.

Payback time

According to Clean Burn’s director of sales Morris Mantey, the typical payback on a used-oil furnace or boiler is 12 to 18 months, after which companies can expect a substantial reduction or near elimination of their heating costs, along with the additional savings on used-oil hauling fees.

The British Columbia Ministry of the Environment reports that each year, 250 million liters of used lubricating oil, including engine oil, transmission fluid, and gear oil, are dumped into the Canadian environment where they not only contribute to pollution, but also waste a resource for heating.

All Clean Burn systems are listed by the Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC) and are approved for used-oil burning by environmental agencies across Canada. The furnaces burn clean without smoke or odor. The only cleaning the units require is the easy removal of ash residue, says the company.

“I’ve been really happy with how clean the furnace burns,” notes Mciver. “The parts are so clean you could get a good shave off them.”