UC San Diego News Center


UC San Diego Vehicles Make a ‘Green’ Oil Change

Biosynthetic plant-based motor oil being used in several UC San Diego vehicles as part of a new campus sustainability demonstration project


One of five Fleet Services vehicles currently running on biosynthetic plant-based motor oil.

University of California San Diego’s Fleet Services is replacing the motor oil in its vehicles with a greener alternative – bio-based motor oil made from plants. The new green transportation demonstration project is part of a larger commitment by UC San Diego to advance sustainable principles throughout campus.The five-car demonstration project began in August and runs for 18 months.

“Our fleet will have a significantly better environmental impact with the switch to a bio-based motor oil,” said Jim Ruby, assistant director of UC San Diego Fleet/Transportation Services. “Our hope is to have the entire campus fleet running on the plant-based biosynthetic motor oil in the future, if feasible.”

Orange County-based Biosynthetic Technologies provided the American Petroleum Institute-certified motor oil for the project along with test kits to evaluate the oil’s performance during the demonstration period. The used oil collected during oil changes will be sent to an independent laboratory for analysis to verify its technical performance relative to the motor oil currently being used.

“UC San Diego is well regarded for its commitment to sustainability,” said Biosynthetic Technologies CEO Allen Barbieri. “This latest change to bio-based motor oil is one more example of their forward-thinking approach to advance the latest clean technologies to protect the environment and public health.”

The green motor oil project is just one of many green transportation initiatives by UC San Diego, which is recognized as having one of the greenest vehicle fleets in the nation with 60 percent of hybrid, electric and alternative-fuel vehicles.

The State of California’s Department of Health Services indicates that over 40 percent of the water pollution in U.S. waterways is caused by used motor oil. In addition, as much as 60 percent of all oil-related pollution in the U.S. is caused by improper disposal of used motor oil, making it the single largest source of oil pollution in our nation’s waterways.

Biosynthetic Technologies’ base oil is biodegradable, non-toxic and fully recyclable. In independent tests, biosynthetic motor oil achieved a three percent fuel economy gain compared to conventional motor oil. Engine tests show that biosynthetic motor oil is cleaner on engines than petroleum-based synthetic oil, and offers longer change intervals. Additional independent testing also showed that biosynthetic oils are among the highest rated products for protecting engines and machinery.

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