November 23, 2017
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Green Light: Waste Oil Heaters

"MTD" "CUMTD" "green light" "waste oil heater" "sustainability"

One of two waste oil heaters circled in red.

Winter temperatures finally set in during the past week. Temperatures have barely reached above freezing and the windchill…is too fierce to mention.

The Maintenance Department heats over 75 percent of its facility in Urbana with waste oil. With a fleet of over 100 vehicles, recycling this burnable oil is not only good for the earth but also great for our bottom line. The EPA permits the burning of waste oil because the emissions are not at hazardous levels.

MTD installed two waste oil heaters in 2003. There are service bays located on the west and east side of the garage. Each service bay area has its own waste oil heater that pumps out 280,000 BTUs. For those with an interest in scientific units, BTU equals British Thermal Units which is equal to about 1,055 joules.

Waste oil is produced during oil changes and inspections and comes from engine oil, transmission fluid, and the hydraulics. Approximately seven gallons of waste oil are produced each time a vehicle is serviced. This resource serves as the primary means to heat approximately 35,000 square feet of the 45,000 square foot facility.

Our waste oil is stored in two double-walled, self-monitoring above ground storage tanks. Each tank holds 1,200 gallons. The heaters, which are installed overhead, pull waste oil directly from these tanks. These large storage tanks enable MTD to safely burn all the waste oil we generate.

The minimal temperature in the two service bay areas is 58 degrees. Mechanics can set their desired temperature through a unit that then communicates with the waste oil heater.

When the room temperature falls below its set point, waste oil is pulled from the tank and heated. This decreases the oil’s viscosity, or thickness, and increases its potential combustibility. It is then pumped through a small hole and an air compressor turns the oil into a “blow torch like spray,” (thanks Dave Moore, Director of Maintenance) which is ignited to make heat!

It’s tricky to assess how much money this recycled form of energy saves MTD as heating

"MTD" "CUMTD" "waste oil heater" "Clean Burn"

One of two waste oil heaters installed at MTD’s Maintenance Facility.

costs vary year to year. The service bays also have large garage doors that are opened and closed several times each day as vehicles enter and leave. The value of 2,400 gallons of waste oil is approximately $1,872.

The manufacturer of our waste oil heaters, Clean Burn, reports, “Two gallons of waste oil can provide electricity to run the average household for approximately 24 hours or… cook 48 meals in a microwave…blow-dry your hair 216 times…vacuum your house for 15 months…or keep your TV on for 180 hours” (Source).

Last winter was mild enough that the Maintenance service bays only used waste oil as a form of heat for the entire season. We’ll see how things go this year!

How does your organization or home cut heating costs in the winter?

About Amy Snyder

Amy Snyder is the Customer Service Manager at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District. She writes and manages content for this blog, The Inside Lane, as well as the social media pages for CUMTD.
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Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District
1101 East University Avenue
Urbana, IL 61802-2009
(217) 384-8188
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