Nexlube bringing the next generation of oil recycling to tampa electricity outage chicago

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D’Angelo is the chief operating officer of NexLube Tampa LLC, which is spending more than $120 million to build an oil re-refinery on 12.3 acres at the Port of Tampa’s Pendola Point. Set for completion in early 2014, it will process up to 24 million gallons of used oil annually.

NexLube will use hydrofinishing — applying extreme heat and pressure — to transform waste oil into a purer form, technical-grade white oil, and resell it. That oil, also known as TGWO or base oil, is the only lubricant pure and safe enough to be used in the machines that handle food.

But the risks to the environment of not recycling oil are even greater. The EPA estimated that 180 million gallons of oil are improperly disposed of in the United States each year. And motor oil is blamed for 40 percent of America’s polluted waterways. One gallon of improperly disposed of oil can, theoretically, contaminate up to 1 million gallons of drinking water.

"I’m from Venezuela, and we had guys throwing the used oil into the river," D’Angelo said. "They didn’t know the damage it would cause to the environment. And the people here who change their old oil by themselves, they don’t know the impact of disposing of used oil.

The technology that NexLube will use, Revivoil, is licensed from the Italian company Viscolube. Italian engineers are helping NexLube build the facility. Their process will distill and dehydrate waste oil, then put it through a "severe hydrofinishing process" utilizing temperatures of about 600 degrees Fahrenheit and pressure in excess of 2,000 pounds per square inch to create the base oil.

The Port of Tampa is an ideal transportation hub for moving NexLube’s re-refined oil: It has access to water, rail and highways. Companies will have plenty of options to ship used oil here, and the finished product can go back out the same ways.

D’Angelo said the world’s main producers of TGWO are in South Korea. Closer to this hemisphere, it’s made by Calumet Specialty Products Partners Inc. (Texas), Petro-Canada and Sonneborn Inc. (Netherlands.) But those producers don’t use waste oil. They use vacuum gas oil, which is produced from crude oil.

D’Angelo said NexLube intends to compete on quality and price. It will produce the highest-quality technical-grade white oil in the world, he said, without worrying about price fluctuations in the world’s crude markets. And he’s not worried about competition. The world’s appetite for TGWO is steadily growing, he said, and demand is great.

He first saw a version of the process in 2005, while visiting an old colleague at his new job in Denmark. It was an oil re-refining plant, and a revelation for D’Angelo, who spent 33 of his 58 years working for the state-owned petroleum company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A.

Then Riata Corporate Group, a private equity firm in Texas, got involved. It invested in the project, lined up investors and expertise. NexLube Tampa LLC is privately owned. Hummel said the company spent years researching which process to use.

"The technology they are implementing is well proven through several re-refineries in Europe," he said via email. "The historical operational performance, availability factor, consistency of production, safety and emissions, makes this the best-in-class technology."

In June 2012, NexLube signed a 20-year lease with the Tampa Port Authority to build Florida’s first oil re-refinery. It is expected to create 75 high-paying jobs (more than $50,000 a year in salary) and 100 indirect jobs. If NexLube is successful, it has an option on several acres of port land next door. So it can expand and add more refining capability.

For David Tedford, NexLube’s environmental and health services manager, the project is also a kind of dream come true. After 17 years in the energy business, he’s building a petroleum facility that will give off fewer emissions than an office building.