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Anything into Oil
DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 04 | ^ | April 2006 | Brad Lemley

Posted on 04/08/2006 3:51:10 PM PDT by ckilmer

Anything Into Oil

Turkey guts, junked car parts, and even raw sewage go in one end of this plant, and black gold comes out the other end

By Brad Lemley
Photography by Dean Kaufman

DISCOVER Vol. 27 No. 04 | April 2006



The thermal conversion plant turns turkey offal into low-sulfur oil that is carted off by three tanker trucks daily.

The smell is a mélange of midsummer corpse with fried-liver overtones and a distinct fecal note. It comes from the worst stuff in the world—turkey slaughterhouse waste. Rotting heads, gnarled feet, slimy intestines, and lungs swollen with putrid gases have been trucked here from a local Butterball packager and dumped into an 80-foot-long hopper with a sickening glorp. In about 20 minutes, the awful mess disappears into the workings of the thermal conversion process plant in Carthage, Missouri.

Two hours later a much cleaner truck—an oil carrier—pulls up to the other end of the plant, and the driver attaches a hose to the truck's intake valve. One hundred fifty barrels of fuel oil, worth $12,600 wholesale, gush into the truck, headed for an oil company that will blend it with heavier fossil-fuel oils to upgrade the stock. Three tanker trucks arrive here on peak production days, loading up with 500 barrels of oil made from 270 tons of turkey guts and 20 tons of pig fat. Most of what cannot be converted into fuel oil becomes high-grade fertilizer; the rest is water clean enough to discharge into a municipal wastewater system.

For Brian Appel—and, maybe, for an energy-hungry world—it's a dream come true, better than turning straw into gold. The thermal conversion process can take material more plentiful and troublesome than straw—slaughterhouse waste, municipal sewage, old tires, mixed plastics, virtually all the wretched detritus of modern life—and make it something the world needs much more than gold: high-quality oil.

Appel, chairman and CEO of Changing World Technologies, has prodded, pushed, and sometimes bulldozed his way toward this goal for nearly a decade, and his joy is almost palpable. "This is a real plant," he says, grinning broadly. He nods at the $42 million mass of tanks, pipes, pumps, grinders, boilers, and catwalks inside a corrugated steel building. The plant is perched 100 yards from ConAgra Foods' Butterball plant, where 35,000 turkeys are butchered daily, surrendering their viscera to Appel's operation. The pig fat comes from four other midwestern ConAgra slaughterhouses. "To anybody who thinks this can't work on an industrial scale, I say, 'Come here and look.' This is the first commercial biorefinery in the world that can make oil from a variety of waste streams."

Still, Appel looks wearier than he did when Discover broke the news about his company's technology (see "Anything Into Oil," May 2003). Back then, when the process was still experimental, Appel predicted that the Carthage plant would crank out oil for about $15 a barrel and rack up profits from day one. But the plant was delayed by construction problems, and federal subsidies were postponed. After it started up, a foul odor angered town residents, leading to a temporary shutdown in December 2005. Production costs turned out to be $80 per barrel, meaning that for most of the plant's working life Appel has lost about $40 per barrel. As recently as last April, he feared the whole operation might implode. "There have definitely been growing pains," he says. "We have made mistakes. We were too aggressive in our earlier projections."

But now, after more than $100 million in private funding and $17 million in government grants, several hurdles have tumbled. The Carthage plant has been optimized and is expected to turn a small profit. A tax credit has leveled the playing field with other renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol. Appel is confident that new ozone scrubbers and other equipment will abate the odors. State officials are warily optimistic. "We are not hoping to shut them down [permanently] and take away jobs," says Connie Patterson, spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. "We have given them a window of opportunity to solve the problem."

Others are optimistic too. "I'm impressed," says Gabriel Miller, a New York University chemistry professor and a consultant to KeySpan Corporation, a gas and electric utility that serves New York. "The fuel that comes out is better than crude, and you don't need a refinery to use it. I think they can bring it deep into commercialization." Miller has recommended that KeySpan burn the oil in its generators.

Appel, a former Hofstra University basketball star, leans his 6-foot-5-inch frame against a counter in the company's lab and rubs his face. He says he is confident that the process can indeed solve thorny waste problems, supplement oil supplies, become an odor-free "good neighbor," and at last, become immensely lucrative.

The catch? It may not happen in the United States.

Left to right: An on-site lab checks oil and fertilizer quality a dozen times daily; some of the plant's 45 workers stroll under oil-bearing pipes; daily maintenance logs are kept on a whiteboard; (Below) a truck is weighed before dumping turkey leftovers; the scrubber system's exhaust stack, wrapped in a steel framework, looms over the plant.

Appel has shepherded development of the thermal conversion process (previously known as the thermal depolymerization process; Appel changed the unwieldy moniker last year) since 1997, building on organic-solids-into-oil research stretching back nearly a century. By 1999 he had lined up investors, hired an engineering staff, and had a pilot plant chewing through seven tons of waste daily in a Philadelphia industrial yard. Early in 2003, company officials predicted their first industrial-size plant would be steaming ahead 24/7 in Carthage by that summer. As it turned out, continuous production did not start until February 2005.

Which is surprising because at first blush, the thermal conversion process seems straightforward. The first thing a visitor sees when he steps into the loading bay is a fat pressurized pipe, which pushes the guts from the receiving hopper into a brawny grinder that chews them into pea-size bits. Dry feedstocks like tires and plastics need additional water at this stage, but offal is wet enough. A first-stage reactor breaks down the stuff with heat and pressure, after which the pressure rapidly drops, flashing off excess water and minerals. In turkeys, the minerals come mostly from bones, and these are shunted to a storage bin to be sold later as a high-calcium powdered fertilizer.

The remaining concentrated organic soup then pours into a second reaction tank—Appel says the two-stage nature of the process distinguishes it from dozens of failed single-stage waste-to-oil schemes devised over the last century—where it is heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and pressurized to 600 pounds per square inch. In 20 minutes, the process replicates what the deep earth does to dead plants and animals over centuries, chopping long, complex molecular chains of hydrogen and carbon into short-chain molecules. Next, the pressure and temperature drop, and the soup swirls through a centrifuge that separates any remaining water from the oil. The water, which in the case of slaughterhouse waste is laden with nitrogen and amino acids, is stored to be sold as a potent liquid fertilizer (see "Garden Delights," next page). Meanwhile, the oil goes to the storage tank to await the next truck. The whole process is efficient, says Terry Adams, the company's chief technology officer: Only 15 percent of the potential energy in the feedstock is used to power the operation; 85 percent is embodied in the output of oil and other products.

The oil itself meets specification D396, a type widely used to power electrical utility generators. The oil can be sold to utilities as is, further distilled into vehicle-grade diesel and gasoline, or, via a steam process, made into hydrogen. Until last year, Appel distilled his output on-site, but he has since decided to sell the oil directly to utilities and refineries. "We just don't make enough volume to make operating our own refinery viable," he says.

So why has success been so long coming? Basically, Appel says, everything has been more complex and expensive than anyone guessed. First, the conversion process needed tweaking. Each variable—temperature, pressure, volume, tank-residence time—needs to precisely match the feedstock, which proves to be no mean feat on an industrial scale. "The really difficult thing has been finding the sweet spot in the process parameters," says Appel. "This isn't a laboratory. We have to respond to the real world of varying supply. If I get two truckloads in a row of just feathers, I need to deal with that high-protein peak. Or if I get too much blood at once, the result is too much water." The solution has been to blend disparate truckloads of stock in a holding tank, making what enters the process relatively consistent.

"Fat, fiber, protein, moisture, ash—getting those right, that's our mantra," says Jim Freiss, vice president of engineering. "Now we are able to nail the same quality every day." Freiss says he and fellow engineers Terry Adams and William Lange "have learned so much that I am very confident we can build a second plant that's optimized from the start."

Chemistry was not the only challenge. Since 2004, the federal government has subsidized biodiesel, usually made from soybeans, at $1 a gallon. It gave Appel zero for the fuel he produced from turkey guts. "It was hard to believe that a competitor could walk away with a dollar a gallon while we were excluded," Appel says. In August that hole was plugged: The fuel Appel makes, known officially as renewable diesel, received a subsidy of $1 per gallon from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which took effect in January. That boosted the company's income by $42 a barrel, allowing a slim profit of $4 a barrel.

Appel offers no apologies for needing government largesse to make money. "All oil, even fossil-fuel oil, gets government subsidies in the form of tax breaks and other incentives," he says, citing a 1998 study by the International Center for Technology Assessment showing that unsubsidized conventional gasoline would cost consumers $15 a gallon. "Before we got this, I had the only oil in the world that didn't get a subsidy."

Another hurdle: Within months after opening in February 2005, the plant smelled, and by August it had been hit by six notices of emissions violations by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. But some in the town, which has other large food processing operations, contend the new plant was unfairly singled out. "The thing was, any odor at all was blamed on them," says Mayor Kenneth Johnson. In any case, Renewable Environmental Solutions, the subsidiary of Changing World Technologies that runs the Carthage plant, spent $2 million on biofilters, scrubbers, and other odor stoppers. Between July and late September complaints had dwindled from 23 to 5 a week, says Mark Rader, an environmental specialist with the department's southwest regional office.

Nonetheless, the Department of Natural Resources issued a temporary shutdown order for the plant in December, prompting Appel and his colleagues to install more ozone scrubbers. But even critics say the persistence of a smell does not invalidate the technology. The plant is just four blocks from downtown Carthage and two blocks from residences. Building future plants in less dense areas would "make more sense," says Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Connie Patterson.

The thermal conversion process is probably the only practical large-scale method of dismantling prions, the proteins that cause mad cow disease. Although the process has never been specifically used to destroy prions, Jefferson Tester, a professor of chemical engineering at MIT, says he's confident that the proteins would be ripped apart and rendered harmless by such extreme temperatures and pressures.

Mad cow disease is thought to spread via the common American practice of feeding rendered animal parts back to animals. Appel assumed that the United States, like most modern nations, would ban the practice, creating more demand for his machinery to process leftover animal parts. In 1997 the government did ban feeding beef parts to beef cattle, but turkey and chicken cannibalism are still legal.

"We thought we would get $24 a ton for taking the waste," says Appel. "Instead, we are paying $30 a ton." That alone raises his production costs about $22 a barrel.

Which brings us to why Appel and his technology are likely to move to Europe. As the United States has crawled toward making its food supply safer, Europe has sprinted, eager to squelch mad cow disease as well as to stanch global warming and promote renewable energy. The result is a cornucopia of incentives for thermal conversion. Last summer Appel gave presentations to government officials and private investors throughout Europe, and the company is planning projects in Wales, Ireland, England, and Germany. Europeans are making the pilgrimage to the Carthage plant. In May Renewable Environmental Solutions ran 360 tons of beef waste through the Carthage plant for a visiting delegation from Irish Food Processors, the biggest beef operation in the British Isles. The Irish newspaper Sunday Tribune wrote that CEO Larry Goodman "is understood to be planning a biofuel facility . . . and hopes to have it built by next year."

The transatlantic lovefest is no wonder. In Ireland, plant operators would get an astronomical $50 per ton to haul slaughterhouse waste away, another $30 per ton in carbon dioxide emissions-reduction credits, a guaranteed price of up to $92 per barrel, and a 20-year price guarantee. "In a 500-ton-per-day plant, our production costs would be under $30 a barrel, and we could sell for about $100 a barrel," Appel says. "It's just amazing."

Only three states—California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia—have incentives that could make the process financially worthwhile for Appel. But he is encouraged by a study commissioned by an automakers' consortium showing that the thermal conversion process could be a solution to one of America's most vexing solid waste problems: the unholy mix of plastics and other leftovers from automobile metals recycling (see "Junkyard Oil," below). "If we do build a plant for that, it will likely be based in Michigan," Appel says.

Until recently, Appel was developing a "leave-behind strategy for us as a company and planning to set up in Europe only." Now he believes there will be some plants built in the United States as well. "I am just so happy to be making oil," he says. "I want to deploy this technology everywhere."

Junkyard Oil

American recyclers deftly pluck nearly all the metal from the 15 million cars junked each year, but up to 4.5 million tons of residual debris goes straight to landfills. Known as auto shredder residue, it is a virtually unrecyclable mix of at least 36 kinds of plastic, along with treated fabrics, rubber, and nylon.

Last May representatives of USCAR—a research consortium made up of DaimlerChrysler, Ford, and General Motors—along with the Argonne National Laboratory and the American Plastics Council arranged a test in which Changing World Technologies ran 3,000 pounds of the awful stuff through its Philadelphia pilot plant.

"The process is brilliant," says Candace Wheeler, a GM research scientist. "There are substances of concern in shredder residue such as PCBs, and traditional incineration of chlorinated plastics can make dioxins." But, she says, the preliminary test results indicate that the hydrolysis at the heart of the thermal conversion process breaks down the PCBs and converts the chlorine into hydrochloric acid. "No PCBs. No dioxins. No emissions," says Wheeler, noting that the principal output of the process was a "light oil" that could be used at an electric power generation plant. "It looks good from all perspectives," she says. "We think it has great potential." —B. L.


Garden Delights

Every organic gardener knows the pang of watching a neighbor blithely squirt chemical fertilizer on his vegetable garden. Sure, the schlub has no respect for nature's elegant cycles, but look at those zucchini!

Such envy could soon become history. Along with oil, the thermal conversion process cranks out a liquid fertilizer that "works a great deal like some of the instant-gratification fertilizers out there," says Jim Freiss, vice president of engineering for Changing World Technologies. Featuring 9 percent nitrogen, 1 percent phosphorus, 2 percent potash, and 19 amino acids, it is, in essence, "an organic Miracle-Gro," he says. "In the organic industry, these kinds of nutrient concentrations are unheard-of. The best that's out there is on the order of 6 percent nitrogen."

Tests on tomato and pepper plants conducted by Joseph Kloepper, professor of plant pathology at Auburn University in Alabama, confirmed the fertilizer's potency. "In my experience," he wrote in a summary paper, "it is rare to find a biological product that demonstrates such a consistent promotion of overall plant growth and root growth on two crops in two different field soils."

Fertilizer-industry officials are excited as well. "Because it has been through high temperatures, there is no coliform bacteria or any of the other problems often associated with organic fertilizers such as manures," says Raj Mehta, president of Organica Biotech, a manufacturer of nonsynthetic fertilizers and pesticides. "I'm convinced there will be a large market for this." —B. L.



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TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: anythingintooil; depolymerization; discover; energy; junkyardoil; oil; thermalbrianappel; thermalconversion; turkeyoffal
Here's a Wickipedia background on the thermal depolymerization. The source for the article is Discover Magazine but you have to be a subscriber to get in.
1 posted on 04/08/2006 3:51:15 PM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer

I knew a year ago when this was first published that $15 a barrel was a pipe dream. I am a cheerleader for these types of innovative fuel technologies, but in these infant stages, overselling the promise is ruinous.


2 posted on 04/08/2006 4:00:12 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: IronJack

agreed. but with world oil prices the way they are--this company can now draw a profit.

amazingly it looks like they can change just about anything carbon based into oil.

For that I don't see why they're not turning every municipal landfill and sewage plant in the country into a profit center rather than a cost center.

oh yeah and also the pig farms of North Carolina.


3 posted on 04/08/2006 4:10:26 PM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer
15 million cars junked each year

Most of them wearing GM badges. :-)

Seriously, this is a very interesting article, but I'm sure as hell glad that first picture isn't larger and more detailed. UGH!

4 posted on 04/08/2006 4:16:10 PM PDT by Hardastarboard (HEY - Billy Joe! You ARE an American Idiot!)
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To: IronJack
Production costs turned out to be $80 per barrel

That's $80 a barrel at a particular cost of energy used to do the processing, transport the inputs and products, heat the workers, etc. Obviously that energy cost less and I would bet the $80 calculation assumes that other energy costs a lot less.

5 posted on 04/08/2006 4:21:14 PM PDT by palmer (Money problems do not come from a lack of money, but from living an excessive, unrealistic lifestyle)
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To: ckilmer

Like minds, the pig farms in NC are huge problems for the area. If this process could be used up there it would be a Godsend.


6 posted on 04/08/2006 4:22:51 PM PDT by rodguy911 (Support the New Media and F.R.)
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To: ckilmer
Wow, a real co-generation plant. I wonder if pig farmers could use this on their waste stream? I haven't lived until you have been down wind of a big hog grow operation.....anything would be an improvement.'


The article did talk of 'waste' from the process - can anybody shed any light on this part of the technology?
7 posted on 04/08/2006 4:22:57 PM PDT by ASOC (Choose between the lesser of two evils, and in the end, you still have - evil.)
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To: ckilmer
"We thought we would get $24 a ton for taking the waste," says Appel. "Instead, we are paying $30 a ton."

Exactly. I still find it hard to believe that anyone is paying $30 a ton for turkey waste (though I imagine that must include a delivery charge that the turkey producer won't see.)

I believe that also changes the economics for turkey producers also for the better, since I don't believe that getting rid of turkey waste was a profit center before (and at $30 a ton, an attractive one I believe) --- I am pretty sure that such disposal has always been a cost center for turkey producers, though it's been a while since I have talked to anyone active in the business.

8 posted on 04/08/2006 4:51:26 PM PDT by snowsislander
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To: ckilmer
oh yeah and also the pig farms of North Carolina.

Iowa's got its share of pig farms. There's no shortage of offal in the meat-growing and -packing states.

9 posted on 04/08/2006 4:52:09 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: IronJack

Ugh. I still remember the hog farms in Indiana. They would collect the urine, feces, dead pigs in huge tanks, and then pump it onto the soy and corn fields for fertilizer. DAMN!!! That was rancid.


10 posted on 04/08/2006 4:57:09 PM PDT by 4U2OUI (losing what I thought was sanity...and liking it.)
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To: 4U2OUI
These days, most large confinement facilities are on slatted floors, which cover a huge basin. The porcine digestive byproducts drop through the slats into the basin, where they're periodically sluiced into a holding lagoon. The lagoon is nothing more than a huge pit.

You can imagine the fragrance emanating from THAT on a hot July day ...

11 posted on 04/08/2006 5:01:23 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: snowsislander

"though I imagine that must include a delivery charge"
I would think you have to pay the haulers of that stuff pretty good money. ugh.


12 posted on 04/08/2006 5:04:49 PM PDT by dynachrome ("Where am I? Where am I going? Why am I in a handbasket?")
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To: IronJack

Does Iowa wash the hog poop into huge lagoons? That is what they do in NC. It proved to be a major problem during flooding caused by hurricanes.


13 posted on 04/08/2006 5:07:19 PM PDT by csmusaret (Urban Sprawl is an oxymoron)
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To: snowsislander

"Exactly. I still find it hard to believe that anyone is paying $30 a ton for turkey waste (though I imagine that must include a delivery charge that the turkey producer won't see.)"

The waste from the process is a dry mineral powder. Excellent for fertilizer or re introduced into a feed stream.

TDP is THE good process for gainging petroleum from waste streams. Changing World Technologies has been plagued by startup difficulties, some understandable, some not (during construction of the Con Agra plant, a whole buttload of welds had to be rescoped, rewelded and scoped again!).


14 posted on 04/08/2006 5:22:29 PM PDT by petro45acp (SUPPORT/BE YOUR LOCAL SHEEPDOG! ("On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs" by Dave Grossman))
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To: ckilmer

These guys have had more than their fair share of problems. Too much government interference, too much diddleage in the areas of fuel classification, and taxes. This is THE BEST way to recover petroleum from waste streams. Land fills will become valueable and not for the expensive foundations they provide for developers. Junkyards and tire disposal yards will be fought over for the petroleum they hold. The potential for franchising trucks with the TDP gear, a mobile petroleum recovery process, will be a huge opportunity.

This is one of, if not the best, potential fixes for getting clear of foreign oil.

A TDP fan,
Top sends


15 posted on 04/08/2006 5:28:26 PM PDT by petro45acp (SUPPORT/BE YOUR LOCAL SHEEPDOG! ("On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs" by Dave Grossman))
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To: ckilmer
with world oil prices the way they are--this company can now draw a profit

Maybe so, but they cannot compete with oil even now. It would take an actual oil shortage to let that happen, something that does not appear to be in the cards. Cost of oil may increase without limit and still be cheaper than this.

16 posted on 04/08/2006 5:32:10 PM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: 4U2OUI

Been there,smelled that.I don't know if the word rancid is adequate to describe the stench.


17 posted on 04/08/2006 5:53:22 PM PDT by Farmer Dean (Every time a toilet flushes,another liberal gets his brains.)
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To: dynachrome

Just the filters on the gas masks would be a real expense.


18 posted on 04/08/2006 5:55:28 PM PDT by Farmer Dean (Every time a toilet flushes,another liberal gets his brains.)
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To: ckilmer

Soylent Green gasoline?


19 posted on 04/08/2006 6:12:51 PM PDT by DUMBGRUNT (islam is a mutant meme)
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To: csmusaret
Does Iowa wash the hog poop into huge lagoons?

Yep. And while Iowa doesn't have many hurricanes, a good southerly breeze can do damage enough ... at least to your olfactory sense.

20 posted on 04/08/2006 7:15:45 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: snowsislander
"Exactly. I still find it hard to believe that anyone is paying $30 a ton for turkey waste (though I imagine that must include a delivery charge that the turkey producer won't see.)"

Turkey droppings (mixed with used sawdust bedding) is Grade-A compost material for landscaping soil. Yes, turkey-offal is really a commodity, as was/is bird guano of all forms.

21 posted on 04/08/2006 7:49:47 PM PDT by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: RightWhale
"Maybe so, but they cannot compete with oil even now. It would take an actual oil shortage to let that happen, something that does not appear to be in the cards. Cost of oil may increase without limit and still be cheaper than this."

Actually not far off. I'm guessing the product is more refined than ME crude, and might command a slightly higher asking-price. Factor in economy-of-scale efficiencies at industrial, rather than boutique, level of production... They're not far off the mark, at all. I'm wondering if the market-value of the fertilizer by-product has been factored-in to the $80/bbl figure.

22 posted on 04/08/2006 8:04:33 PM PDT by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: ckilmer

bump


23 posted on 04/08/2006 8:11:25 PM PDT by VOA
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To: RightWhale

with world oil prices the way they are--this company can now draw a profit

Maybe so, but they cannot compete with oil even now. It would take an actual oil shortage to let that happen, something that does not appear to be in the cards. Cost of oil may increase without limit and still be cheaper than this.
///////////////
The Carthage plant has been optimized and is expected to turn a small profit. A tax credit has leveled the playing field with other renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol.

The fuel Appel makes, known officially as renewable diesel, received a subsidy of $1 per gallon from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which took effect in January. That boosted the company's income by $42 a barrel, allowing a slim profit of $4 a barrel.


24 posted on 04/08/2006 8:24:57 PM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer
You can find a (large) PDF scan of the original Discover Magazine article here. This technology is my bet for the best (non-nuclear) alternate fuel out there because it actually creates more energy than it uses. and uses garbage as fuel.
25 posted on 04/08/2006 11:42:26 PM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: ckilmer
Somehow a tax credit doesn't feel like a level playing field. Mano a mano is the real test.
26 posted on 04/09/2006 9:27:32 AM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: CowboyJay

It's not easy to compete with what can be sucked out of the ground for free, the expenses being pipe and fees, leases, taxes, graft, and the US Marines.


27 posted on 04/09/2006 9:30:48 AM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: ckilmer

Its really too bad the economics don't work. Had some hope for this one.


28 posted on 04/09/2006 9:35:56 AM PDT by JustDoItAlways
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To: RightWhale

Appel offers no apologies for needing government largesse to make money. "All oil, even fossil-fuel oil, gets government subsidies in the form of tax breaks and other incentives," he says, citing a 1998 study by the International Center for Technology Assessment showing that unsubsidized conventional gasoline would cost consumers $15 a gallon. "Before we got this, I had the only oil in the world that didn't get a subsidy."


29 posted on 04/09/2006 9:54:51 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: JustDoItAlways

The Carthage plant has been optimized and is expected to turn a small profit. A tax credit has leveled the playing field with other renewable fuels like biodiesel and ethanol.

The fuel Appel makes, known officially as renewable diesel, received a subsidy of $1 per gallon from the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which took effect in January. That boosted the company's income by $42 a barrel, allowing a slim profit of $4 a barrel.


30 posted on 04/09/2006 9:56:17 AM PDT by ckilmer
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To: ckilmer
We pay for our oil eventually, whether in other taxes that don't seem to be related, or in military security in places that we wouldn't even look twice at if they didn't have oil.

Since we don't get oil from Iraq, it might be asked why our military is there so big, and then the wide-angle lens has to be used. Europe and Asia get oil from the region, and we get some small amount from Saudi, but since oil is a world commodity, what China buys from the ME affects what we buy from Nigeria. So we do China's work and Europe's work in protecting the oil. Why should we do their work? The oil is that important to us that if waited for China and France/Germany to pick up their share of the workload we would find our oil prices escalating beyond the comfort zone. The free ride is in China and Europe, but since we are the big piece of the world economy we have to do this to remain the big piece.

31 posted on 04/09/2006 10:05:15 AM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: RightWhale

Why should we do their work?

This is an interesting question that I've wondered about myself. Part of the reason is that oil is pegged to the dollar. In order for countries to buy oil they have to pay for it in dollars--and that includes china.

What would bankrupt the USA in a day would be if major oil producing countries decided to peg their oil in another currency. This is something that major minor oil producers like like Iran and Venezuela are already trying to do.


32 posted on 04/09/2006 1:07:47 PM PDT by ckilmer
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To: RightWhale
"It's not easy to compete with what can be sucked out of the ground for free, the expenses being pipe and fees, leases, taxes, graft, and the US Marines. "

Don't forget exploration, tooling, drilling, and transport costs. It takes more infrastructure to pull crude out of the ground overseas than to produce it from TDP domestically. The seed energy consumption is what's keeping the cost higher, ATM. LP or NG are probably more cost-effective than burning their product for the process.

Why not just harness waste heat from the electrical generation process as part of an integrated Electricity/TDP oil plant? Most of our electrical generation comes from processes that produce waste-heat.

33 posted on 04/09/2006 1:19:45 PM PDT by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: ckilmer
"But even critics say the persistence of a smell does not invalidate the technology."

Oil refineries and landfills reek to high-heaven, as well, but we still manage to find a place for them.

34 posted on 04/09/2006 1:24:20 PM PDT by CowboyJay (Rough Riders! Tancredo '08)
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To: ckilmer
Recipe for oil independence:

1. Abolish all current fuel tax.

2. Replace with a $50 per barrel tax on imported oil.

3. Announce plans to increase this tax by $1/year in inflationn-adjusted terms 4. Make exceptions for Canada and Mexico, though limit their tax- free exports to the US to current production plus 10%.

5. Watch the innovators go to work.

35 posted on 04/09/2006 1:36:36 PM PDT by cookcounty (Army Vet, Army Dad.)
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To: petro45acp

Don't forget the millions of gallons of sewage generated daily in major cities like New York and LA.

Imagine the money those cities could earn if they scrapped their sewage treatment plants and converted them into TDP facilities.

The municipal government could charge city residents a sewage fee...

...and then sell the oil for a profit.

In essence, they'd be able to collect payment two-fold for one service.

And if that isn't a sweet deal, I don't know what else is.


36 posted on 04/09/2006 4:53:58 PM PDT by gogogodzilla (Raaargh! Raaargh! Crush, Stomp!)
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To: gogogodzilla

True enough. In addition to sewage, think of the dumb-a55 recycling centers. The only "recycle" stream that works at a profit is aluminium. Plastic, glass, and paper are not profitable. The state and local recycling centers enjoy federal subsidies (source: Penn and Teller's "Bull5h1t"). The petroleum recovered from plastic could be really big.


37 posted on 04/10/2006 5:23:44 AM PDT by petro45acp (SUPPORT/BE YOUR LOCAL SHEEPDOG! ("On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs" by Dave Grossman))
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To: cookcounty
Recipe for oil independence:
1. Abolish all current fuel tax.

2. Replace with a $50 per barrel tax on imported oil.

3. Announce plans to increase this tax by $1/year in inflationn-adjusted terms

4. Make exceptions for Canada and Mexico, though limit their tax- free exports to the US to current production plus 10%.

5. Watch the innovators go to work.

Best Idea I've seen.

38 posted on 04/13/2006 10:36:23 AM PDT by Trinity5
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To: Trinity5
What I want to know is, when can you get one of these that's about the size of a typical home furnace?

I think the only way you'll get Americans to recycle in a big way will be if you reward them with fuel for their SUVs.

:::: Jan Steinman, Communication Steward, EcoReality -- be the change! ::::

39 posted on 04/20/2006 9:03:24 AM PDT by Bytesmiths
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To: ckilmer

"What would bankrupt the USA in a day would be if major oil producing countries decided to peg their oil in another currency. This is something that major minor oil producers like like Iran and Venezuela are already trying to do."



Actually, Iraq DID that. In 2000 they transfered their oil for food account into Euros. (Axis country #1) Iran announced it would do the same thing next. (Axis country #2). Then Korea announced it would revalue it's accounts in Euros. See where this is going? One of the reasons we're in Iraq (not the only one) is to make it an example to the rest of the world. Don't mess with our "rack up debt for free" card. When Venezuela started to consider it, the US tried to instigate a coup, and still has Venezuela on it's military radar, except that China stepped in at told us to cool it. And we don't want to mess with China for good reason. They may be "developing" but at least their economy can compete without running a petrodollar ponzai scheme.


40 posted on 04/20/2006 9:54:15 PM PDT by rzs
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To: IronJack

Unless they can find ways to either (1) reduce production costs, or (2) get the raw material suppliers to PAY THEM for disposing of their waste products, then the venture will not likely be profitable. They can't count on $80 per barrel oil in the long term to make them competitive. A business model could possibly be developed to make them viable, but they've got to find a way to make their net cost of production much lower.


41 posted on 04/28/2006 1:26:38 PM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: VRWCmember

Considering it's not just animal byproducts that can be polymerized, I would think there have to be cheaper sources of raw materials. Any organic garbage would do, although I suspect the yields would drop. Or maybe a catalyst could be found that would shorten the polymerization process itself. I think this bears further research, but I don't think it's quite viable yet.


42 posted on 04/28/2006 2:42:24 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: RightWhale

To RightWhale:
If you read the article closely, you will see that ALL fuel sources receive subsidies (in fact, the article points out that if fossil fuel were NOT subsidized, it would cost about $15 per gallon!). The subsidy for this oil IS leveling the playing field.

Ultimately, with the economics of scale, as more plants are built, the cost will likely decline, particularly if the highly questionable process of making livestock feed from these wastes is banned, as it has been in much of Europe. This would remove a large fraction of the competition for offal, which keeps the price high. Also, this process, which produces the oil right here at home, would sidestep the high cost of transporting crude oil from the sources in the middle east (it has been said that a supertanker burns almost as much fuel as it delivers). This can only help.


43 posted on 05/01/2007 11:18:32 AM PDT by FrogWeber
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To: FrogWeber

Been there, got the degree. This is an old, dead thread, but perhaps it is time for a new biotrash thread.


44 posted on 05/01/2007 12:25:24 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: ckilmer
Each variable—temperature, pressure, volume, tank-residence time—needs to precisely match the feedstock, which proves to be no mean feat on an industrial scale. "The really difficult thing has been finding the sweet spot in the process parameters," says Appel. "This isn't a laboratory. We have to respond to the real world of varying supply."

This is my biggest concern with the technology. Unless they can develop some means to have automatic controls over the system settings that react to the contents, there's no way to make this system more generalizable to other types of waste.

As for the $80/barrel costs, the real kicker is that a good portion of that comes from the fact that they actually have to PAY for the turkey waste (because it would otherwise be converted back into animal feed). The article says that works out to $22/barrel, so we're really seeing under $60/barrel, which does make the price competitive (and slightly lower) than worldwide crude.

45 posted on 05/01/2007 12:33:51 PM PDT by kevkrom
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To: kevkrom

Each variable—temperature, pressure, volume, tank-residence time—needs to precisely match the feedstock, which proves to be no mean feat on an industrial scale. “The really difficult thing has been finding the sweet spot in the process parameters,” says Appel. “This isn’t a laboratory. We have to respond to the real world of varying supply.”

This is my biggest concern with the technology. Unless they can develop some means to have automatic controls over the system settings that react to the contents, there’s no way to make this system more generalizable to other types of waste.
/////////////
They have another plant in Philadelphia that uses the city sewage system as feedstock. a lot of trial & error went into that system as well. I agree the system won’t be perfected until automatic controls adjust for feedstock. In the meantime what they’ll do is look for large relatively consistant feedstocks that they can set the controls for once — after much trial & error. still current testing I’ve heard about is for auto tires. a number of plants are already slated to go up in europe where mad cow has made slaughterhouse offals free. which is what they originally thought would happen in the usa if mad cow spread. it didn’t.


46 posted on 05/01/2007 6:56:54 PM PDT by ckilmer
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