Thermo-chemical extraction of fuel oil from waste lubricating grease

Tsietsi Jefrey Pilusa, Edison Muzenda, Mukul Shukla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated the recovery of oil from waste grease through the process of thermal degradation in an aqueous solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) followed by solvent extraction. Waste high temperature metal bearing grease was dissolved in a 15w/w% KOH solution at 80°C while being agitated at 2000rpm using a shear action agitator for a period of 15min. Two distinct layers were observed after 8min of settling time. The top layer being of dark brown oil and the bottom layer was a heterogeneous mixture. The two layers were separated by decantation. The bottom layer was cooled down to 45°C followed by slow addition of toluene (C7H8) while agitating at 1200rpm for 15min to prevent solids settling and minimise rapid volatilisation of the organic compounds in the mixture. Two distinct layers were also formed, the top homogeneous mixture of light brown oil-toluene mixture and the bottom sludge layer. The solvent was recovered from the oil for re-use by fractional distillation of the homogenous mixture. It was observed that 15w/w% potassium hydroxide solution can chemically degrade the soap matrix in the grease and extract up to 49w/w% of the fuel oil when subjected to high shear stress at a temperature of 80°C. The 26w/w% extraction of oil in the remaining sludge was obtained by solvent extraction process with mass ratios of sludge to solvent of 2:1. Solvent recovery of 88% by mass was obtained via fractional distillation method. The combined extraction processes brought an overall oil yield of 75w/w% from the waste grease. The fuel oil obtained from this process has similar properties to paraffin oil and can be blended with other oils as an alternative energy source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1509-1515
Number of pages7
JournalWaste Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Waste Management and Disposal


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