SK Lubricants and South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy signed a memorandum of understanding last week to recycle waste lubricants into base oils.
The program, which would also involve other companies, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by turning used oils back into a raw material for lubricants rather than burning them as a source of energy.
South Korea does not currently have any rerefineries that produce base oils, Kline Group consultants said recently.
SK’s role will at least include facilitating sales of rerefined base oils, according to a July 6 news release posted by the ministry. The ministry said other companies will also participate in the program – such as start-up Clean Korea, which is receiving a government subsidy, and Sebang Refining – fulfilling tasks such as collection of used lubricants.
Modern rerefineries process used lubricants by removing chemical additives, water and other impurities and hydrotreating saturate molecules to make the fluid more chemically uniform. Rerefineries can make base oils, and it is also common for a portion of the output to be used as fuel.
Using rerefined oils as base stocks is generally viewed as more environmentally beneficial because it does not generate emissions as burning does, and it reduces the need for virgin base oils produced at fuels refineries.