Circular economy refers to an economy where resources are recovered from recycling as much as possible and wastes are transformed into new resources, instead of “produce, use, dispose”.
The importance of the circular economy and investments are increasing in Turkey. One of those investments is the TAYRAS Base Oil Refinery in Bilecik.
Waste oils collected from the industry are converted into base oils with high added value at this refinery. This achievement has a contribution to Turkey’s zero waste policy as well as to the economy.
How does the process work in the refinery?
Almost all of the process here is carried out within the structures seen in the photograph, with a system that can be described as “closed”. Therefore, it is not possible to come across many people in the refinery, apart from the officers who carry out routine checks.
We learn from Ertuğrul Kılıç, Process and Operations Manager, that the refinery operates with an almost 100% automation system. This is managed from the Control and Process Room, the brain of the facility.
[Kontrol ve proses odası]
Kılıç said, “Our main goal in our facility is to obtain high value-added and environmentally friendly base oil from waste mineral oils by using the most advanced technologies available.
Our process proceeds as follows: Waste mineral oils collected from industry or engine oil change services are primarily accepted to the facility. In our laboratory, analysis is carried out according to the limits set by the regulation. According to the results of this analysis, we decide on the acceptance of waste oils to the facility.
Waste oils accepted at the facility are stored and subjected to various processes. Then the distillation process begins. In this process, “asphalt residue” is obtained from the wastes formed by the deterioration of the additives in the waste mineral oils. Waste oils separated from deteriorated additives enter the hydroprocessing process, which is the most critical stage of the refinery.
Why is hydro-processing important?
The refinery is the first and only facility in Turkey to produce high quality base oil from waste mineral oils using hydroprocessing technology. The hydrogen required for hydroprocessing is also produced in-house.
Let’s listen to the importance of hydro-processing from Kılıç:
“Hydro-processing is a very critical technology. Especially essential for obtaining high quality base oil. The hydrogen required for hydro-processing is obtained from natural gas at our facility. As for why hydrotreating is important, hydrotreating is required to achieve high grade base oil, Group 2 grade as defined by API.”
An import item of high quality base oil
The Ministry of Industry and Technology of the Republic of Turkey evaluates the facility as a strategic investment. One of the reasons for this is the reduction of imports with the base oils produced.
According to the reports prepared by PETDER, approximately 275 thousand tons/year of waste mineral oil is generated in Turkey. The processing capacity of the facility is 60 thousand tons/year.
Kılıç said, “The increase in such facilities and the proper collection of waste by licensed companies and the inclusion of them in the circular economy by processing with the best available technologies are of strategic importance for our country. Because for us, waste is a national wealth,” he says.
The base oils coming out of the facility can be used as a raw material for any motor oil or in textile, industry and many similar sectors.
Kılıç said, “High quality base oils are an import item for Turkey. Thanks to the technology we use and the high quality product we produce, we are getting ahead of an import item.”
Zero waste principle is applied throughout the organization
We learn that the Zero Waste principle is applied throughout the organization. For example, energy is obtained from the toxic gases emitted from the facility, and waste water is disposed of with this energy.
Fossil fuel consumption is also reduced by processing waste mineral oils. From 100 liters of crude oil, 1 to 3 liters of base oil can be obtained, and from the same amount of waste mineral oil, 70 liters of base oil can be obtained. And waste mineral oils can be processed and used many times over.
Kılıç said, “The yield obtained from the waste mineral oils entering the facility is as follows: We have a base oil efficiency of 70-75 percent. We obtain asphalt balance as the bottom product in the range of approximately 15 percent. Other products are light volatiles and we use these light volatiles as fuel in our facility.”
Editing: Cihan Karaahmetoglu