Sonju keeps efficient with new facilityThe Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce members got a behind-the-scenes look at the new Sonju Superstore facility off the Highway 61 Expressway last Thursday, which included a look at some waste oil burners that are helping the facility keep energy efficient.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News Chronicle
The Two Harbors Area Chamber of Commerce members got a behind-the-scenes look at the new Sonju Superstore facility off the Highway 61 Expressway last Thursday.
The 37-acre facility, which opened in April, holds three times the inventory of the previous dealership site in Two Harbors at Highway 61 and County Road 26. General manager Keith McKinzie says the new location has more room for more services.
Chamber members were able to see the waste oil burners used to heat the main service department and the reconditioning shop where cars are cleaned.
The heaters burn waste oil from oil changes. The old Sonju site used one burner, which was transferred over and grouped with a new burner.
Burning the oil allows the dealership to save money on heating costs, which are passed down to customers in cheaper oil changes. McKinzie said an oil change that used to cost about $30 is now $17 because Sonju doesn’t have to pay to haul the waste oil off site.
Service director Nick Beck says the burners are a relatively clean way to heat the buildings. They use electricity to heat the oil to a high temperature. The oil is then forced through a nozzle. The combination of heat and air pressure causes the oil to ignite, like a flame thrower, Beck said. He said the electricity the burners use is significantly less than that of a traditional furnace. Beck called what used to be waste “liquid gold” because of the heating value.
Storage tanks can hold 1,000 gallons of waste oil. The idea is to store oil during the warm months when heating isn’t used. Beck said he expects to have enough oil to make it through the winter. One downside of the heating process, he said, is that it creates a lot of carbon waste that needs to be disposed.
The new facility has other energy efficient upgrades. Lights were replaced, a more efficient air compressor added, and a more efficient air exchanger is under consideration.