Japan to Develop Base Oil Rerefining

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Eneos Corp. is conducting a two-year study on recycled waste lubricants to help establish supply of rerefined base oil in Japan, the company said in a press release last month.

The study is commissioned by the country’s Ministry of the Environment. Over the next two years, Tokyo-based Eneos will develop a waste lubricant collection system and rerefining base oil technology with the aim for early commercialization of rerefined base oil.

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“Currently, most of the waste lubricant in Japan is thermally recycled, releasing carbon dioxide, but by recycling waste lubricants into base oils, it is possible to reduce the product life cycle CO2 emissions and at the same time provide a stable supply of base oil,” the company said in a press release.

The government said it needs to confirm that recycled lubricants will be acceptable to original equipment manufacturers, and this means a need for a unique standard of rerefined base oil. For example, in addition to criteria stipulated in American Petroleum Institute base oil standards, the amounts of moisture, metal, dust and others may need to be included in such a standard, according to a report, “Diversification in raw materials to ensure stable supply of lubricants,” released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in March, last year.

In the future, with a worldwide trend towards decarbonization, electric vehicles will increase and the demand for gasoline and diesel oil, which are fossil fuels, will decrease. As a result, the production of mineral base oil, which is a by-product of the petroleum refining process, will also decrease, and there is a risk of tightening of domestic supply of mineral base oil, said the report.

Japan is expected to produce 2.3 million kiloliters (2.1 million metric tons) per year of lubricants by 2030, according to the Japan Petroleum Energy Center’s “Measures for a stable supply for fuel” report released this year.

In April, Eneos also announced plans to produce biobased lubricants and greases made with its proprietary base oils derived from vegetables by 2023 to help the company reduce carbon dioxide emissions for the product’s life cycle.