Eagle-Vail: Used motor oil heats auto shop
June 19, 2008
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” Last winter, George Brodin had a heating bill of zero at his auto repair business, Leadfoot Linda’s in Eagle-Vail.
He used what garages typically have a lot of ” old motor oil ” to heat his 6,000-square-foot business.
Brodin installed a “Clean Burn” boiler that runs on used motor oil and transmission fluid emptied from the cars that come in his shop. The heater is just like any other hot water boiler ” it just uses motor oil for its fuel instead of natural gas, Brodin said.
The used oil is kept in big tanks in the garage, where it will stay until winter time. When a warmer garage is needed, they’ll fire up the “Clean Burn” heater.
The oil is “atomized” with high pressure, meaning it’s broken down at the chemical level so that it can be used as fuel.
“If you’re building a wood fire, you can’t just start it with a log and a match,” Brodin said. “You have kindling that’s broken into smaller pieces. Here we’re breaking the oil into smaller pieces.”
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Because the oil is broken down, it’s a clean burning fuel, Brodin said. Workers also check the oil to make sure it’s not contaminated with other chemicals.
“The last thing we want to do is put lots of black smoke in the air,” Brodin said.
This waste oil heater cost about twice as much as a normal boiler, but should pay itself back in five years, he said. Brodin’s only had it for one winter ” but didn’t have to pay any heating costs.
“We’ll definitely pay it back, then we’ll be ahead of the game,” Brodin says.
More though than saving money in the long run, Brodin is interested in running a resourceful, environmentally conscious business.
“We’re taking what is otherwise a waste product and getting one more use out of it,” Brodin said.
Even with a consistent supply of oil, the business did struggle a little this winter to find enough to keep the heater going. Leadfoot Linda’s gladly accepts people bringing in oil they emptied themselves.
“We’d rather have it here than in a ditch somewhere,” Brodin said.
Need to get rid of your used motor oil? Drop it off at Leadfoot Linda’s, 41049 U.S. Highway 6, says owner George Brodin.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.