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Recycling Oil Filters

Partners in Promoting Hazardous Awareness in Used Oil Filters is a simple science project that can be replicated in any community.

Science Club members in grades six through eight at West Branch junior high researched problems associated with used oil filter disposal in landfills. They then collected and crushed over 500 oil filters.

Students recorded the brand, the mass of the filter after crushing, and drained filters at 45, 60 and 90 degrees. After several days of draining, a significant amount of oil remained trapped in the filters.

Students also punctured the dome to release the vacuum (this method proved to be rather messy.) The students learned that 88% of the residual oil contained in used filters is extractable by using a hydraulic press to compress the oil filter and collect the used oil. "Research" filters used by the students were then recycled by a Skay Automotive in Iowa City.

It was estimated that 351,000 gallons of used oil could be recovered in Iowa and prevented from possibly leaching from filters and into ground and surface water supplies. Students learned that only five states prohibit the disposal of used oil filters in their landfills. Approximately 85% of used oil filters in the United States are disposed of in landfills, and because of this practice 17.8 million gallons of oil and 161,000 tons of steel are going to waste.

Approximately 84% of an oil filter is steel. Students learned that steel is the number-one recycled material in the United States-enough steel to make 16 new stadiums the size of Atlanta=s Turner Stadium. They developed a four-by-six-foot poster display and a PowerPoint presentation to educate the public about the benefits of crushing used oil filters and recycling the oil.

Members of the West Branch Science Club learned environmental lessons that will remain with them for a lifetime. They also learned they can have a positive impact on the environment and make an important difference in their community.

For Brian and Dawn Skay of Skay Automotive, the students brought about an important way they can use their everyday business practices to help our planet.  For this, the auto repair shop was presented an award from the President of the United States for outstanding achievement in environmental protection services.

 

 

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