The Big Idea 2013: Closed-loop Oil System

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

Hospital implements closed-loop oil recycling system.

Dave Reeves
Director, Food & Nutrition

Jim Roth
Executive Chef
Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare, Elmhurst, Ill.

Dave Reeves: We had an opportunity with building a new facility to explore some new options. We were brainstorming ideas and the closed oil system was one of the things Jim had mentioned. He had seen the system in operation in a casino he had been working in. I liked the idea because there would be virtually no cost involved because we could incorporate it into the design of the building.

It is a very clean system. We don’t have a Dumpster outside where we’re putting used oil, with the smell and mess associated with it. Preferred Oil is the company that designed the system.

The system works like this: A truck pulls up to the loading dock and the driver accesses a panel on the wall where a valve is located. He attaches a hose and pumps cooking oil through the valve into a 200-gallon tank located inside the building.

Our fryers are connected to the tank via tubes. When a cook needs to fill a fryer or replace oil, he or she simply takes a hose with a handle attached to the fryer, pushes the handle and allows oil to flow into the fryer. When oil is ready to be recycled, the cooks can access a panel in the front of the fryer, where, by turning a red lever, they allow oil to flow out of the fryer and into the waste oil bin located right inside the loading dock.
The oil company comes to the hospital and attaches a hose to another valve, also on the wall of the loading dock. The oil company driver opens the valve and the used oil flows into the truck to be taken for recycling.

Jim Roth: We are paying a commodity price for oil, but by recycling the oil we get a credit back. It’s more efficient and more economical. It reduces the chance of accidents that you can have with spilling oil, changing filters, etc. You don’t have employees carrying bottles of oil, and there are no cases of 35-gallon containers of oil sitting around taking up storage space. Another thing I like is that I can monitor my oil usage from my desktop.

For example, I can tell when oil is being recycled too soon and from which fryer. So I can talk to employees about their oil usage, keeping filters clean, etc. In the two years this has been in place, we’ve found we’re using less oil than before. We are using less than 200
gallons a month.