If MacGyver had a degree in chemical engineering, he'd be working for Nexcel.
Nexcel, a subsidiary of Castrol focused on innovation, announced on Wednesday that it created automotive-grade motor oil from nothing but garbage. To create a single liter of oil, Nexcel used 180 pieces of chewing gum, half a liter of used fryer oil, one gram of silicone sealant, 14 batteries, one liter of used engine oil and -- my favorite part -- one old Christmas tree.
"For this particular project we wanted to make the entire oil from waste materials, and the challenge lay in the creation of the chemical additives," said John Ward-Zinski, sustainability director at Nexcel, in a statement. "Few people would think that discarded Christmas trees and old chewing gum could have a commercial or environmental value, but our engine oil shows this is anything but the case."
Capturing old oil and re-refining it to be usable again is at the heart of what Nexcel does, and it hopes that another one of its products can help boost oil recycling even further. It created a "plug-and-play" oil-change system -- instead of draining the oil pan and swapping in a new filter, Nexcel created an all-in-one box that contains the engine oil and filter. When it's time for an oil change, simply yank out the old box and drop in a new one. Contamination from other chemicals can ruin engine oil's chance at a second life, so keeping it locked away in this box is a clever way to get around that.
Nexcel's re-refined oil has already seen use in a production vehicle. At the 2017 Goodwood Festival of Speed, Aston Martin ran a wielding Nexcel's clever tech and its re-refined oil. Perhaps in the future, your tired old Christmas tree might be helping shove thousands of pounds of metal up a hill at a blistering pace.