Global Re-refined Base Oil Market: Overview

Lubricants are imperative for smooth functioning and operation of mechanical devices and equipment. Several lubricants are used in the industrial and automotive applications, namely engine oils, transmission oils, gear oils, transformer oils, and turbine oils. These lubricants, which are 85% base oils and 15% additives, keep friction between contacting surfaces low and improve their lifespan. However, these lubricants are often collected and processed at the end of their lifespan. Most of the used lubricants, post collection, are used as fuel; however, some of these are cleaned, processed, and fractionated. These oils are termed re-refined base oils. Re-refined base oils are again blended with additives and converted into lubricants. The cycle can also be termed as the lubricant recycling process. The re-refining process initiates with the collection of waste lube oils. Solid contaminants and water are removed from the collected lube oils. The mixture is then made ready for further processing. This mixture is distilled to eliminate low hydrocarbons and solvents. Post these steps, the oil is processed via either of the four re-refining techniques acid & clay treatment, propane extraction, flash distillation, and demetallization & hydroprocessing.     

Global Re-refined Base Oil Market: Drivers

The usage of re-refined base oils has positive impact on the environment. Re-refining has the potential to make the lubricant industry circular and reduce the strain on the environment by lowering the dependence on crude oil and its extraction. More than 42 liters of crude oil is required for the production of 0.5 liters of lubricant/base oil; however, nearly 34 liters of lubricants/base oil can be made from 42 liters of used lube oil. The process also resolves the disposal issues of used lubricants. According to the API, the re-refining process requires 50% to 80% less energy than what is required for refining crude oil (to produce base oil). However, the process has certain drawbacks. It is expensive as the used oil is usually a mixture of all grades and requires extensive refining. Disposal of wastes from re-refining is also a challenge. Furthermore, the variety of contaminants makes it difficult for establishment of set processes.   

Global Re-refined Base Oil Market: Key Segments

Based on group, the re-refined base oils market can be segmented into group I, group II, and group III. Group III base stock is difficult to achieve as it requires extensive re-processing and clean source of waste lube oils. Group I and II are the abundant forms of re-refined base oils.  In terms of process, the re-refined base oil market can be divided into acid & clay treatment, propane extraction, flash distillation, and demetallization & hydroprocessing. Demetallization & hydroprocessing is a leading and sophisticated process known to achieve base oils of high API grades, usually group II and group II+. Based on application, the re-refined base oil market can be segregated into engine oils, transmission oils, gear oils, industrial oils, and others.         

In terms of geography, the global re-refined base oil market can be classified into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Re-refined base oil is an established market; however, the rate of usage and quality of re-refined oil varies in each country. Europe and North America are major regions of the global re-refined base oil market. These are followed by Asia Pacific. Europe is focusing on creating circular economies and recycling of used lubricants. 

Global Re-refined Base Oil Market: Key Players

Key players operating in the global re-refined base oil market are NexLube, Puraglobe GmbH, Avista Corporation, Total Lubricants, and Veolia Environnement S.A.

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