The University of Vermont’s automotive shop has taken oil disposal into its own hands. In 2001, Richard Leclair, Automotive Shop Supervisor, brought to the attention of Rich Wolbach, Energy Management Engineer, the idea of a furnace system that operates with the use of used oil. The department researched several systems, the technology, its cost benefits, environmental benefits and what it would take to get the system installed. Francis Churchill from UVM's Environmental Safety department looked into the permitting and air quality of the system.
The system is a self-contained portable unit that has the capacity to store 250 gallons of used oils. This includes engine oil, transmission fluid, and hydraulic fluid. UVM Environmental Safety, which had previously contracted out the removal of approximately 600 gallons of oil per year from the Automotive Shop, realizes the benefits of having the used oil burning system in place. The heating system in the old building where the shop is located was over 20 years old and used an average of 2,000 gallons of fuel oil a year. A local oil company brings in the oil for the old system which is a one-million BTU unit. The new used-oil system has a heating capacity of 500,000 BTU. According to the vendor, this new system should have the capacity to heat the entire shop and the old furnace will only be used as a supplementary system.
The furnace, which is U.S. EPA approved, helps alleviate the cost of the removal of used oil, the liability for user generated waste, reduce the cost of having new fuel oil delivered and keeps the UVM mechanics warm throughout the cold Vermont Winter.