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Re-refining oil is a big deal in Brazil — Here's why

The concept of re-using oil may seem strange to some, but for over 35 years, Brazil based Lwart Lubrificantes has been collecting and re-refining used motor oil.

According to the business, it has 15 collection centers throughout Brazil, with 300 vehicles servicing over 60,000 "generating sources."

"Lwart collects used oil all over Brazil in thousands of locations: service stations, quick lubes, factories, agriculture, mining," Carlos Renato Trecenti, CEO of Lwart Lubrificantes, told CNBC's Sustainable Energy. "Last year we processed 140,000 metric tons of used oil."

Renato went on to explain that, currently, the most common destination for used oil – when it isn't re-refined – is the burning of it as a fuel.

"In our view, at this moment, when everybody is looking for cleaner energy sources, cleaner fuels, it does not make sense to burn used oil, which is not a clean fuel," he said. "Re-refining is the best solution for the environment."

Ana Claudia is the production co-ordinator at Lwart Lubrificantes. "The re-refining process is divided in two sections: front end and back end," she said. "Front end, the idea is to remove all the contaminants, the water, the light ends and the asphalt, and to collect what we call 'lube distillate'."

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"The lube distillate is sent to (the) back end, where we have… hydrogen acting to remove all the sulfur and the double bonds that we call 'saturation'. The result for the process is a very good quality oil, that has low sulfur and high saturates."

U.S. firm Chemical Engineering Partners Incorporated provides technology used by Lwart Lubfricantes.

"Since its first use 30 years ago, we have improved our technology significantly," Joshua Park, CEO of Chemical Engineering Partners, said. "Our technology is a renewable process where we re-refine used oil and bring it back to a quality that's (the) same or better than its original use," he added.

Park went on to state that developing countries were licensing his company's technology because it helped them to reduce their dependence on foreign oil imports. "At the same time it also helps those developing countries to control their environmental impacts of burning or wasting used oil," he said.