Base oil is one of the very few products of crude oil refining that is not regularly consumed in use. Instead, base oil is blended with one or more additives for use in various applications and equipment from which it may also be removed at any time. During use, the functional components of the lubricating oil may become depleted and/or dirty. At this point the in-service oil is changed out for new oil. The used oil thus removed is now, usually, available for collection and, potentially, for re-refining to recover the base oil component and make it ready for use in new lubricant formulations. This chapter provides an overview of the types and characteristics of used hydrocarbon-based lubricants suitable for base oil recovery and the processes involved in that recovery. Included is a brief history of re-refining; terminology germane to the industry; the test methods variously used and their significance in the assessment of used oil quality; a description of some of the refining techniques employed in processing the used oil feedstock to recover the base oil; and finally, a short list of publications for the reference of those interested in further reading.
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