Tallow in the crankcase

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Animal fat - the nasty gloop that clogs up our arteries, yet makes fried chicken just so scrumptious! - has long been consider a source material to make fuel for diesel-powered cars and trucks, though its typically blended with traditional diesel. Now a company is making engine oil from such fats - but sans petroleum altogether.


Green Earth Technologies (GET) rolled out “G-OIL” late last year (around November to be precise), touted as a totally biodegradable motor oil guaranteed to protect engines - in this case both gasoline and diesel models - just as well as petroleum-based brands, but without the environmental hazards or dependence on foreign oil.


G-OIL is manufactured from tallow - culled from beef and once used to make animal feed and soap - that it buys from American farmers (note the stress on “American” here: they don‘t miss a chance to tout that fact). The company uses nanotechnology to convert tallow from a solid raw material into completely biodegradable motor oil - making roughly one barrel of G-OIL from one barrel of animal tallow, as compared to the three barrels of petroleum needed to make one barrel of traditional engine oil.


This "green oil" product is currently undergoing a program of testing being conducted by an independent third party testing facility that uses (reportedly) testing procedures & guidelines established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Thus far, the company says its product has successfully completed fiterability, ball bearing rust, sulfur, calcium, zinc and phosphorus tests, with the 10W-30 G-OIL‘s results so far showing to be comparable to published data for synthetic and crude oil based motor oils.


Obviously, if this stuff works - and that's a very BIG if ... I have not yet found a fleet that uses it, let me stress - it could be a major deal. I mean, the U.S. market for motor oil - cars and trucks combined - is just north of $7 billion a year. Imagine if we didn‘t need to use petroleum to make one drop of engine oil, yet get all the wear protection and viscosity a long-haul commercial truck demands?


And imagine also if this stuff congealed into gloop similar to what clogs up our arteries, only in your engine cylinders? That would spell disaster in a hurry. So yes, this stuff needs to be tested as rigorously as any new product, in this case against Society of Automotive Engineer and Technology & Maintenance Council standards.


But still ... wouldn‘t it be great if this worked? If wasted animal fast could be recycled into engine oil? It‘s an enticing possibility. We‘ll have to see if it comes to fruition here down the road.

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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