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Turn Animal Fat Into Engine Oil

Fresh oil out of the container that spills onto the ground poses no risk at all to the environment, unlike spilled petroleum oil that can contaminate ground water

Since the BSE crisis, disposing of waste from slaughter plants has been a costly problem. A completely new use for animal by-products may on the horizon. Green Earth Technologies (GET) of Stamford, Connecticut, is turning tallow into premium engine oil on a commercial scale.

The oil is refined from saturated animal fat, which has molecular single-bond carbon chains similar to petroleum oil. Perhaps the best part is it’s also good for the environment.

A company publication claims it takes three barrels of crude oil to make one barrel of engine oil, but one barrel of animal fat translates directly into another full barrel of useable oil. The process of creating it is very efficient, too. The fat from just one cow can produce about 110 litres of refined engine oil.

According to Jeff Loch, GET’s founder and chief marketing officer, the company’s motto is “Save the earth; sacrifice nothing.” “We don’t believe consumers who want to be environmentally conscious should have to give up value or performance,” he says. The company’s goal is to provide similarly priced oils that provide quality equal to standard petroleum products. And he believes they’re doing exactly that.


GET has several oils available, including some for use in two-cycle engines. But so far only its SAE 5W30 weight has been tested against the standard required by the American Petroleum Institute (API) for “SM” Certification, which it received. And it’s the only biobased motor oil to get it, so far.

Loch says the company chose to apply for API certification on its 5W30 first because that’s the most widely-used weight in North America. But, he adds, the company will soon be applying for certification on others. And that will be critical in breaking further into the engine oil market. Having an API rating is important for consumers who want to be sure the oil they use meets industry standards, particularly if they are using it in a vehicle under warranty.

“The goal is to [certify] 10W30, 5W20 and then the 15W40, which is used in diesel applications,” adds Loch. But because the leading API standard will be changing this year from SM to a newer SN rating, that poses a problem for small companies like GET with limited funding. “The challenge we have as a smaller company is do you put your money into testing at the SN level and be ahead of the game or do we go back

and get some additional weights (certified) at the SM level.”


As one way of proving to drivers GET’s oil is capable of high-quality lubrication under demanding conditions, the company is participating in the American Le Mans racing series’ green challenge. The company is providing its green engine oil for use in race cars.

“American Le Mans is dedicated to redefining racing as a green sport,” says Loch. “That’s where a lot of automobile manufacturers go to test new technologies. So our thought was why not take some of the most sophisticated engines out there, run our oil in them for 12 hours at six or seven thousand RPMs and prove to the consumer this is good stuff.”

The reason the company is willing to put its oil to that kind of severe test is because it has some data showing their product is not only as good as regular petroleumbased oils, but it actually rivals high-end synthetics. “(Our product) perform(s) like a synthetic motor oil,” says Loch. “That’s the performance level we’re benchmarking against in both performance as well as longevity.” But it won’t cost as much, as its priced between petroleum and synthetic oils. GET’s products are now available in both the U. S. and Canada.

After they’ve done their job in an engine, the tallow-based oils can be disposed of in the same way as any other used lube when it’s drained out. But if it wasn’t for the contaminants from the engine and combustion, Loch says the oil itself could actually be used as fertilizer. Fresh oil out of the container that spills onto the ground poses no risk at all to the environment, unlike spilled petroleum oil that can contaminate ground water.

“All of our products have a zero rating in toxicity,” adds Loch. By 2014, when Tier 4b engines start coming into production, non-toxic oil may be sitting on shelves in farm shops waiting to be poured into diesels that will emit 90 per cent fewer exhaust emissions than today’s engines do.

Times are changing.

Scott Garvey is machinery editor with Grainews.

About the author


Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey is a freelance writer and video producer. He is also the former machinery editor at Grainews.



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