Canadian company Recover Energy is recycling oil from drilling waste.

According to the company, drilling new oil wells requires use of drilling fluid such as oil-based mud for lubricating the drill and moving chunks of rock and ground out of the way.

The oil-based mud, which is a mix of oil, brine, emulsifiers, clay, lime, wetting agents and other chemicals, is often mixed with sawdust and landfilled following its use.

However, Recover Energy takes that drilling waste and extracts a base oil from it, enabling oil companies to use that recycled base oil to create more mud for drilling.

To accomplish this, Recover Energy uses hexane — which is a solvent commonly used for extracting vegetable oils — to extract the oil.

Following extraction, the company dries out the remaining waste and sends it to the landfill. Although the remaining material to be landfilled still contains some contaminants, such as residual chlorides, the amount is still significantly lower than what was previously landfilled, according to the company.

So far, Recover Energy has accepted roughly 2,000 loads of waste and produced over 40,000 barrels of base oil, thereby avoiding an estimated 68,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions by diverting less waste to landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that is equivalent to taking roughly 14,000 cars off the road for a year.

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