By on December 16, 2009

Is this even trying?

TTAC Commentator dastanley writes:

I saw an ad in a magazine for G Oil a biodegradable motor oil. Green Earth Technologies (GET) makes and sells this biodegradable motor oil from American sourced beef tallow (or so they claim). GET claims that the API has certified this oil with an “SM” rating. They also sell a full line of other automotive and lawn and garden products that they say are earth friendly.

Do you have any info on this? Is this the real thing or just beef tallow bullshit?

Sajeev answers:

Unlike some of our Best and Brightest, I am no expert on petroleum. But I’ll get the ball rolling, putting two and two together. First, GET’s oil meets or exceeds requirements of API SM, so it doesn’t completely suck. This sets the performance “floor” for an oil, a less than reassuring concept for any (non-leased) car powered by a remotely modern engine design.

More to the point, it’s a floor and not a ceiling: kinda like state-mandated standardized testing thresholds for high school students. So even if you make the grade, you’re probably not Ivy League material. For better or worse, of course.

And the OEM’s know it: Wikipedia notes that several automakers diverged from API’s low ball standards back in the early 1990s. Try VW’s high mileage service intervals on beef tallow-based oil: forget about sludging problems, the oil pan would be lined with metal shavings well before that!

Buyer beware: avoid a “green oil” until an OEM approves it for use in their cars. Not that I hate the environment, but protecting the “Federal Green” in your wallet is no laughing matter. Which is why I do what I do.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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32 Comments on “Piston Slap: G.E.T. Outta Here...”


  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Hmm. Let’s see. Crude oil already comes from the ground and it’s origin far predates humankind. So by definition it’s already a natural product. And after this stuff has suspended 5000 miles of toxic gases and various metals in my IC engine, I wouldn’t exactly add it to my dirty martini.

    Sounds like a crock. And I wouldn’t put that crap in any car I care about.

    More green marketing to the sheeple.

  • avatar
    Monty

    Maybe after you change the oil in your car you could drop it into the deep fryer, and re-use it making some french fries. Just sayin’.

    I’d be interested in hearing Goolsbee’s take on this. Could it be used to make fuel?

    • 0 avatar

      I imagine most older diesels would burn this stuff just fine. I know guys who pour their waste oil into their tanks at a 1:20 ratio with Diesel#2, and despite being a bit smoky, works fine. (I recycle my used oil at the local solid waste transfer station/recycling center though.) The beef tallow stuff would be an expensive way to run your car though, at least as a fuel.

      I may run my car on home-brew fuel, but I use the best engine oil I can find. My oil of choice is Shell Rotella or, if I can’t find it, Chevron Delo. I even run the old E-type Jaguar on Rotella as the flat-tappet engine needs the higher ZDDP content found in Diesel-formula lubricants. I make my own fuel primarily because I’m cheap, and like DIY engineering and solutions. Saving the planet is not the focus so much as saving my wallet.
       
       
       

  • avatar
    PickupMan

    The bottle says “Environmentally Safe”.  Does that include the cow?

  • avatar
    Ernie

    I bought two bottles of this from home-depot for my snowblower . . . then discovered they come pre-filled with oil (duh) -> lawnmower assumption I guess.
     
    I was intrigued by “green” and still haven’t read up on this . . . I may still return it in light of my discovery.  But (for my lawn equipment), I’d be on-bard for something that, when you change your oil you can dump on the mulch pile without sullying the water table.
     
    That said, I don’t think this is THAT kind of green . . .
     
    —– EDIT!!!! —–
    No effing way:
    http://www.getg.com/faq/index.php

    I have friends who are going to be hard pressed not to chug a quart of this on a dare :D :D :D

  • avatar
    carguy

    I have my doubts about their definition of “bio-degradable”. If the long lipid molecules are strong enough to withstand mechanical wearing in the engine, will they just fall apart when you drain it? How fast do they claim this oil degrades into smaller hydro carbons?
     
    By all means, have your old oil recycled but this just smells like green washing to me.
     

    • 0 avatar
      sean362880

      I’m guessing that the “biodegradable” mechanism is enzymatic, rather than oxidative.

      That said, I’m sure you’re right that this GET concoction does oxidatively decay with high engine temps, but I can think of no reason why that process wouldn’t occur at the same rate as a similar-sized hydrocarbon derived from petroleum.

      I’d like to know how it compares from the standpoint of detergents, additives, etc., which are necessary parts of ordinary motor oil which I doubt that bacteria would find tasty.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    1) The whole point of having a quality lubricant is that it doesn’t break down.
    2) What’s the container made out of? 

  • avatar

    Of course, technically speaking all hydrocarbons are organic.
    –David (tied for second highest final exam in organic chemistry, in Nobel laureate Melvin Calvin’s class at UC Berkeley, winter quarter, 1973)

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sounds like a spoof.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    If you want to save the environment, buy a Prius, which is factory-filled with synthetic oil, I believe.

  • avatar
    pariah

    From their web site:

    GET’s proprietary process produces saturated chain of carbon mainly in the 16 to 20 carbon lengths that mimic crude oil distillates in structure. Biodegradability is defined by an ASTM specification that puts the material for 28 days in contact with environmentally present bacteria and measures the proportion that is broken down back into elemental form.  The conditions of the engine and the environment are vastly different.  So, no, it doesn’t biodegrade in the engine.  We have engine tests now that show that G-Oil meets or exceeds the performance of ASTM reference oils in these conditions and have an ongoing program to continue to obtain additional test data.

    Take whatever you want out of that, I guess. I think some actual data would be nice.

  • avatar
    c5karl

    Maybe this is safe for the environment straight out of the bottle, but coming out of the crankcase it will be full of toxic heavy metals and combustion byproducts.
    I guess if you’re going to kill weeds in your yard with your waste oil anyway, the local critters are probably better if you use this than Quaker State, but do they really want to encourage people to do that?

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I exclusively use Amsoil in my Prius.  Almost 90,000 miles now; no problems.

    Uhhh, and for those interested (though it has nothing to do with the motor oil), I’ve had no battery problems, either…

  • avatar
    StephenT

    I have not seen much discussion about this oil at Bobistheoilguy.com, but Renewable Lubricants Inc (http://www.renewablelube.com/)  has had great reviews.
    Note – I am not associated with RLI, just wanted to show that there are viable non-petro oils out there.

  • avatar
    scoopdl

    Just used this for my oil change on my ’02 Corolla 1,000 miles ago.  This company also provides oil fro the American LeMans series. Supposedly in the API testing this oil outperformed Mobil 1 synthetic in all categories except one. I ‘ve ran Costco gas on my last few tanks and am getting over 415 miles on each tank. Before I was averaging about 385-400 on just about any gas I run (76, Chevron, Shell, or Costco). Not sure why this is. Less friction? You can’t dump this on your lawn after its used, but it’s made from leftover cow fat from American cows by an American company. We need to quit buying the crap from other countries and support our workers! When I change my oil I’ll post and let everyone know if I find sludge or metal shavings in my used oil.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    I  would be willing to wager that it is biodegrading in the bottle while we are looking at it.

    • 0 avatar
      scoopdl

      Not exactly – the ASTM rates products for biodegradability. This is rated with their highest rating. In order for the product to degrade it must be exposed to bacteria which exist naturally in the environment (in soil) not car engines. Engines run way too hot to foster the development of these bacteria. And no, they aren’t shipped in the bottle. Also – Do NOT dump this in your garden. Supposedly the company is creating an additive to instantly allow you to dump the oil in the soil, but as someone else stated, you have too much “blow-by” the piston rings of gasoline, and heavy metals to allow us to do this at this point.

      Yes – I’ve done my research. NO WAY I was risking my engine, even in my Corolla, before I checked this out.

  • avatar
    obbop

    Everything is “natural.”
    Nothing is artificial.  Nothing.
    Just depends upon how you view things.
    Everything larger than an atom is comprised of one or more atoms.
    How much more natural can you get than an atom?
    If whatever is made of one or more atoms it is “natural.”
    Ergo, everything is natural.
     

    • 0 avatar
      criminalenterprise

      Some atoms do not exist except by artificial manipulation.
       
      Marketing something as “natural” implies the product is made of or readily decays into molecules or elements already cycling throughout the biosphere, and that such inputs are not disproportionate in quantity, are not likely to accumulate, and will not cause interruption of a balanced ecosystem.  Above all, it carries the promise that it will not adversely affect the human life cycle.

  • avatar
    Mekkon

    I used their 2-stroke variant in a moped over the summer, and it ran great – noticeably better than with the normal hardware store stuff.  Less smoke too, but not zero, as is claimed.  What I liked best about it was that it didn’t junk up the exhaust pipe – a pretty big concern for mopeds running pretty near 10,000 rpm all the time.  I put about 300 miles on with it, no issues whatsoever.  After that I picked up some of their car care stuff.  It’s pricey, but works pretty well.  The window wash and wheel cleaner are fantastic – the best I’ve used.  The tire shine is so-so, and the carwash fluid seems good, but not spectacular.
    I haven’t seen or used their motor oil for cars, but I did see a test a where a team (I don’t recall who) used it for trials in a fleet of track-only racing M3′s, and it did quite well.  Seems like a good sign to me.  I, too, heard that it outperformed Mobil 1 in the API tests – I’d love to see the data.  In terms of it’s biodegradibility, some type of decomposing additive must be mixed into it when it’s removed from a car, after that it breaks down pretty quickly, and can be disposed of easily.  (Dump it on the garden?)
    I’m not sure enough of this stuff to use it in my car just yet, but I give ‘em props for developing it and getting it API certified, which is not easy.  I’m all for more oil options that aren’t foreign oil, so I hope it proves safe and reliable.  Environmental issues aside, soon enough oil will be crazy pricey again, and if this stuff’s been doing hard duty in racing M3′s for a couple years by then, I’ll happily give it a go.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Buyer beware: avoid a “green oil” until an OEM approves it for use in their cars. Not that I hate the environment, but protecting the “Federal Green” in your wallet is no laughing matter.

     
    Sajeev, the world needs you at Copenhagen right now.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    This product appears to be the answer to a question that no one asked.

    After all, isn’t practically all used motor oil reclaimed? (Notwithstanding the occasional neighbor who dumps it into the storm drain…)

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I would use reclaimed, re-refined, used motor oil in my car before I ever used this. Sounds like organic snake oil to me.

    I have to agree with you Sajeev: until one of the manufacturers certifies that their cars are compatible with using it and all warranties remian if force, it will have to stay on the shelf with the Overhaul In A Can that comes with pellets you shoot into your spark plug holes to rebuild your engine.

    Not all that’s green is gold………  How many years before the mercury on those curly cue eco friendly light bulbs starts leeching into the soil and water ? 

    And in this case, the oil isn’t compatible with vegan morality and philosophy much less OEM standards.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t anyone just buy a qt. of  OIL  anymore?  Sheesh….

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I put 350K miles on a car using  the cheapest dino 20 W 50 I could find with an STP filter. I just changed the oil at 4k intervals.   Oil is  made to  a minimum standard that  is  plenty  good  enough. The rest  is   advertising  hype.  If  I  could easily  find  re-refined  oil ,  I would use it.
    The  beef  tallow   based oil is prolly made by  thermal depolymerization cracking. “Synthetic” oil  is   made from  natural gas  base stock.  Hydro carbons  is  hydrocarbons regardless of  their   source.


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