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Anything into Oil(solution to dependence on foregn oil?)
DISCOVER Vol. 24 No. 5 ^ | May 2003 | Brad Lemley

Posted on 04/21/2003 5:57:41 AM PDT by honway

In an industrial park in Philadelphia sits a new machine that can change almost anything into oil.

Really.

"This is a solution to three of the biggest problems facing mankind," says Brian Appel, chairman and CEO of Changing World Technologies, the company that built this pilot plant and has just completed its first industrial-size installation in Missouri. "This process can deal with the world's waste. It can supplement our dwindling supplies of oil. And it can slow down global warming."

Pardon me, says a reporter, shivering in the frigid dawn, but that sounds too good to be true. "Everybody says that," says Appel. He is a tall, affable entrepreneur who has assembled a team of scientists, former government leaders, and deep-pocketed investors to develop and sell what he calls the thermal depolymerization process, or TDP. The process is designed to handle almost any waste product imaginable, including turkey offal, tires, plastic bottles, harbor-dredged muck, old computers, municipal garbage, cornstalks, paper-pulp effluent, infectious medical waste, oil-refinery residues, even biological weapons such as anthrax spores. According to Appel, waste goes in one end and comes out the other as three products, all valuable and environmentally benign: high-quality oil, clean-burning gas, and purified minerals that can be used as fuels, fertilizers, or specialty chemicals for manufacturing.

Unlike other solid-to-liquid-fuel processes such as cornstarch into ethanol, this one will accept almost any carbon-based feedstock. If a 175-pound man fell into one end, he would come out the other end as 38 pounds of oil, 7 pounds of gas, and 7 pounds of minerals, as well as 123 pounds of sterilized water. While no one plans to put people into a thermal depolymerization machine, an intimate human creation could become a prime feedstock. "There is no reason why we can't turn sewage, including human excrement, into a glorious oil," says engineer Terry Adams, a project consultant. So the city of Philadelphia is in discussion with Changing World Technologies to begin doing exactly that.

"The potential is unbelievable," says Michael Roberts, a senior chemical engineer for the Gas Technology Institute, an energy research group. "You're not only cleaning up waste; you're talking about distributed generation of oil all over the world."

"This is not an incremental change. This is a big, new step," agrees Alf Andreassen, a venture capitalist with the Paladin Capital Group and a former Bell Laboratories director. The offal-derived oil, is chemically almost identical to a number two fuel oil used to heat homes.

Andreassen and others anticipate that a large chunk of the world's agricultural, industrial, and municipal waste may someday go into thermal depolymerization machines scattered all over the globe. If the process works as well as its creators claim, not only would most toxic waste problems become history, so would imported oil. Just converting all the U.S. agricultural waste into oil and gas would yield the energy equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil annually. In 2001 the United States imported 4.2 billion barrels of oil. Referring to U.S. dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East, R. James Woolsey, former CIA director and an adviser to Changing World Technologies, says, "This technology offers a beginning of a way away from this."

But first things first. Today, here at the plant at Philadelphia's Naval Business Center, the experimental feedstock is turkey processing-plant waste: feathers, bones, skin, blood, fat, guts. A forklift dumps 1,400 pounds of the nasty stuff into the machine's first stage, a 350-horsepower grinder that masticates it into gray brown slurry. From there it flows into a series of tanks and pipes, which hum and hiss as they heat, digest, and break down the mixture. Two hours later, a white-jacketed technician turns a spigot. Out pours a honey-colored fluid, steaming a bit in the cold warehouse as it fills a glass beaker.

It really is a lovely oil. "The longest carbon chains are C-18 or so," says Appel, admiring the liquid. "That's a very light oil. It is essentially the same as a mix of half fuel oil, half gasoline."

Private investors, who have chipped in $40 million to develop the process, aren't the only ones who are impressed. The federal government has granted more than $12 million to push the work along. "We will be able to make oil for $8 to $12 a barrel," says Paul Baskis, the inventor of the process. "We are going to be able to switch to a carbohydrate economy."

Making oil and gas from hydrocarbon-based waste is a trick that Earth mastered long ago. Most crude oil comes from one-celled plants and animals that die, settle to ocean floors, decompose, and are mashed by sliding tectonic plates, a process geologists call subduction. Under pressure and heat, the dead creatures' long chains of hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon-bearing molecules, known as polymers, decompose into short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons. However, Earth takes its own sweet time doing this—generally thousands or millions of years—because subterranean heat and pressure changes are chaotic. Thermal depolymerization machines turbocharge the process by precisely raising heat and pressure to levels that break the feedstock's long molecular bonds.

Many scientists have tried to convert organic solids to liquid fuel using waste products before, but their efforts have been notoriously inefficient. "The problem with most of these methods was that they tried to do the transformation in one step—superheat the material to drive off the water and simultaneously break down the molecules," says Appel. That leads to profligate energy use and makes it possible for hazardous substances to pollute the finished product.

Very wet waste—and much of the world's waste is wet—is particularly difficult to process efficiently because driving off the water requires so much energy. Usually, the Btu content in the resulting oil or gas barely exceeds the amount needed to make the stuff.

That's the challenge that Baskis, a microbiologist and inventor who lives in Rantoul, Illinois, confronted in the late 1980s. He says he "had a flash" of insight about how to improve the basic ideas behind another inventor's waste-reforming process. "The prototype I saw produced a heavy, burned oil," recalls Baskis. "I drew up an improvement and filed the first patents." He spent the early 1990s wooing investors and, in 1996, met Appel, a former commodities trader. "I saw what this could be and took over the patents," says Appel, who formed a partnership with the Gas Technology Institute and had a demonstration plant up and running by 1999.

Thermal depolymerization, Appel says, has proved to be 85 percent energy efficient for complex feedstocks, such as turkey offal: "That means for every 100 Btus in the feedstock, we use only 15 Btus to run the process." He contends the efficiency is even better for relatively dry raw materials, such as plastics.

So how does it work? In the cold Philadelphia warehouse, Appel waves a long arm at the apparatus, which looks surprisingly low tech: a tangle of pressure vessels, pipes, valves, and heat exchangers terminating in storage tanks. It resembles the oil refineries that stretch to the horizon on either side of the New Jersey Turnpike, and in part, that's exactly what it is.

Appel strides to a silver gray pressure tank that is 20 feet long, three feet wide, heavily insulated, and wrapped with electric heating coils. He raps on its side. "The chief difference in our process is that we make water a friend rather than an enemy," he says. "The other processes all tried to drive out water. We drive it in, inside this tank, with heat and pressure. We super-hydrate the material." Thus temperatures and pressures need only be modest, because water helps to convey heat into the feedstock. "We're talking about temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of about 600 pounds for most organic material—not at all extreme or energy intensive. And the cooking times are pretty short, usually about 15 minutes."

Once the organic soup is heated and partially depolymerized in the reactor vessel, phase two begins. "We quickly drop the slurry to a lower pressure," says Appel, pointing at a branching series of pipes. The rapid depressurization releases about 90 percent of the slurry's free water. Dehydration via depressurization is far cheaper in terms of energy consumed than is heating and boiling off the water, particularly because no heat is wasted. "We send the flashed-off water back up there," Appel says, pointing to a pipe that leads to the beginning of the process, "to heat the incoming stream."

At this stage, the minerals—in turkey waste, they come mostly from bones—settle out and are shunted to storage tanks. Rich in calcium and magnesium, the dried brown powder "is a perfect balanced fertilizer," Appel says.

The remaining concentrated organic soup gushes into a second-stage reactor similar to the coke ovens used to refine oil into gasoline. "This technology is as old as the hills," says Appel, grinning broadly. The reactor heats the soup to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit to further break apart long molecular chains. Next, in vertical distillation columns, hot vapor flows up, condenses, and flows out from different levels: gases from the top of the column, light oils from the upper middle, heavier oils from the middle, water from the lower middle, and powdered carbon—used to manufacture tires, filters, and printer toners—from the bottom. "Gas is expensive to transport, so we use it on-site in the plant to heat the process," Appel says. The oil, minerals, and carbon are sold to the highest bidders.

Depending on the feedstock and the cooking and coking times, the process can be tweaked to make other specialty chemicals that may be even more profitable than oil. Turkey offal, for example, can be used to produce fatty acids for soap, tires, paints, and lubricants. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC—the stuff of house siding, wallpapers, and plastic pipes—yields hydrochloric acid, a relatively benign and industrially valuable chemical used to make cleaners and solvents. "That's what's so great about making water a friend," says Appel. "The hydrogen in water combines with the chlorine in PVC to make it safe. If you burn PVC [in a municipal-waste incinerator], you get dioxin—very toxic."

Brian Appel, CEO of Changing World Technologies, strolls through a thermal depolymerization plant in Philadelphia. Experiments at the pilot facility revealed that the process is scalable—plants can sprawl over acres and handle 4,000 tons of waste a day or be "small enough to go on the back of a flatbed truck" and handle just one ton daily, says Appel.

The technicians here have spent three years feeding different kinds of waste into their machinery to formulate recipes. In a little trailer next to the plant, Appel picks up a handful of one-gallon plastic bags sent by a potential customer in Japan. The first is full of ground-up appliances, each piece no larger than a pea. "Put a computer and a refrigerator into a grinder, and that's what you get," he says, shaking the bag. "It's PVC, wood, fiberglass, metal, just a mess of different things. This process handles mixed waste beautifully." Next to the ground-up appliances is a plastic bucket of municipal sewage. Appel pops the lid and instantly regrets it. "Whew," he says. "That is nasty."

Experimentation revealed that different waste streams require different cooking and coking times and yield different finished products. "It's a two-step process, and you do more in step one or step two depending on what you are processing," Terry Adams says. "With the turkey guts, you do the lion's share in the first stage. With mixed plastics, most of the breakdown happens in the second stage." The oil-to-mineral ratios vary too. Plastic bottles, for example, yield copious amounts of oil, while tires yield more minerals and other solids. So far, says Adams, "nothing hazardous comes out from any feedstock we try."

"The only thing this process can't handle is nuclear waste," Appel says. "If it contains carbon, we can do it."

This Philadelphia pilot plant can handle only seven tons of waste a day, but 1,054 miles to the west, in Carthage, Missouri, about 100 yards from one of ConAgra Foods' massive Butterball Turkey plants, sits the company's first commercial-scale thermal depolymerization plant. The $20 million facility, scheduled to go online any day, is expected to digest more than 200 tons of turkey-processing waste every 24 hours.

The north side of Carthage smells like Thanksgiving all the time. At the Butterball plant, workers slaughter, pluck, parcook, and package 30,000 turkeys each workday, filling the air with the distinctive tang of boiling bird. A factory tour reveals the grisly realities of large-scale poultry processing. Inside, an endless chain of hanging carcasses clanks past knife-wielding laborers who slash away. Outside, a tanker truck idles, full to the top with fresh turkey blood. For many years, ConAgra Foods has trucked the plant's waste—feathers, organs, and other nonusable parts—to a rendering facility where it was ground and dried to make animal feed, fertilizer, and other chemical products. But bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, can spread among cattle from recycled feed, and although no similar disease has been found in poultry, regulators are becoming skittish about feeding animals to animals.

In Europe the practice is illegal for all livestock. Since 1997, the United States has prohibited the feeding of most recycled animal waste to cattle. Ultimately, the specter of European-style mad-cow regulations may kick-start the acceptance of thermal depolymerization. "In Europe, there are mountains of bones piling up," says Alf Andreassen. "When recycling waste into feed stops in this country, it will change everything."

Because depolymerization takes apart materials at the molecular level, Appel says, it is "the perfect process for destroying pathogens." On a wet afternoon in Carthage, he smiles at the new plant—an artless assemblage of gray and dun-colored buildings—as if it were his favorite child.

"This plant will make 10 tons of gas per day, which will go back into the system to make heat to power the system," he says. "It will make 21,000 gallons of water, which will be clean enough to discharge into a municipal sewage system. Pathological vectors will be completely gone. It will make 11 tons of minerals and 600 barrels of oil, high-quality stuff, the same specs as a number two heating oil." He shakes his head almost as if he can't believe it. "It's amazing.

The Environmental Protection Agency doesn't even consider us waste handlers. We are actually manufacturers—that's what our permit says. This process changes the whole industrial equation. Waste goes from a cost to a profit."

He watches as burly men in coveralls weld and grind the complex loops of piping. A group of 15 investors and corporate advisers, including Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, stroll among the sparks and hissing torches, listening to a tour led by plant manager Don Sanders. A veteran of the refinery business, Sanders emphasizes that once the pressurized water is flashed off, "the process is similar to oil refining. The equipment, the procedures, the safety factors, the maintenance—it's all proven technology."

And it will be profitable, promises Appel. "We've done so much testing in Philadelphia, we already know the costs," he says. "This is our first-out plant, and we estimate we'll make oil at $15 a barrel. In three to five years, we'll drop that to $10, the same as a medium-size oil exploration and production company. And it will get cheaper from there."

"We've got a lot of confidence in this," Buffett says. "I represent ConAgra's investment. We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't anticipate success." Buffett isn't alone. Appel has lined up federal grant money to help build demonstration plants to process chicken offal and manure in Alabama and crop residuals and grease in Nevada. Also in the works are plants to process turkey waste and manure in Colorado and pork and cheese waste in Italy. He says the first generation of depolymerization centers will be up and running in 2005. By then it should be clear whether the technology is as miraculous as its backers claim.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abiogenic; anwr; co2; electrolysis; energy; energylist; oil; thomasgold
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1 posted on 04/21/2003 5:57:41 AM PDT by honway
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To: OKCSubmariner
fyi
2 posted on 04/21/2003 5:58:52 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway
Pardon me, says a reporter, shivering in the frigid dawn, but that sounds too good to be true.

I'll second that!

3 posted on 04/21/2003 6:01:48 AM PDT by Temple Owl
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To: Temple Owl
I'll second that!

Read on. 100 pounds of discarded plasic bottles yields 70 pounds of clean burning oil.

4 posted on 04/21/2003 6:04:52 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway
As a chemist somewhat familiar with how difficult it is to get chemical reactions to go in the desired direction no matter how pure and carefully selected your starting materials are, I find it hard to believe that a single apparatus could take any carbonaceous starting material and get the reactions to all go the same.

My second thought is that, even if this thing does work, you would almost certainly have to put a lot more energy into it than you could get out of it.
5 posted on 04/21/2003 6:13:31 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Drug prohibition laws help support terrorism.)
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To: honway
"There is no reason why we can't turn sewage, including human excrement, into a glorious oil,"

Oooookay. And they can make lemonade out of it too.

6 posted on 04/21/2003 6:16:05 AM PDT by Temple Owl
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
The issue should not be if its effiecient. It would reduce the amount of landfills.
7 posted on 04/21/2003 6:16:58 AM PDT by Baseballguy
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To: honway
http://www.changingworldtech.com/techfr.htm
8 posted on 04/21/2003 6:20:28 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Drug prohibition laws help support terrorism.)
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To: honway
"The potential is unbelievable," says Michael Roberts

That's what I was thinking too.

9 posted on 04/21/2003 6:23:17 AM PDT by Gumption
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
My second thought is that, even if this thing does work, you would almost certainly have to put a lot more energy into it than you could get out of it

I encourage you to read the entire article. This is not a hypothetical theory. There is an industrial size fully operational plant in Carthage, MO. Most of the energy required in the process is produced from the waste going in. How's 80% efficiency sound when your raw material is stuff headed for a landfill.

10 posted on 04/21/2003 6:28:35 AM PDT by honway
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To: Gumption
bumpity
11 posted on 04/21/2003 6:30:15 AM PDT by umgud
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
Thanks for the link.

http://www.changingworldtech.com/techfr.htm


The Thermo-Depolymerization Process, or TDP, copies the geological and geothermal processes of nature. The technology emulates what occurs daily in the earth's subduction zones, but uses an accelerated process.
The TDP mimics the earth's system; however, TDP takes only minutes to do what nature does over thousands of years.



By controlling the temperature and pressure of this man-made system through the use of pipes, the TDP produces high quality products, including valuable oils that do not contain any tars or asphaltines
12 posted on 04/21/2003 6:32:53 AM PDT by honway
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To: thinden
fyi
13 posted on 04/21/2003 6:34:09 AM PDT by honway
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To: Tymesup
fyi
14 posted on 04/21/2003 6:34:40 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway

Carthage Commercial Facility

15 posted on 04/21/2003 6:36:20 AM PDT by honway
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To: All
Just converting all the U.S. agricultural waste into oil and gas would yield the energy equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil annually. In 2001 the United States imported 4.2 billion barrels of oil.
16 posted on 04/21/2003 6:43:34 AM PDT by honway
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
I am thinking the same thing. The thing that gets me is that the company has a pilot plant and investors. Real ones, by the sound of this article. Usually these "perpetual motion machine/zero point energy" scams are trying to get investors, this one's building a production plant.
17 posted on 04/21/2003 6:44:19 AM PDT by m1911
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To: honway

18 posted on 04/21/2003 6:44:51 AM PDT by CollegeRepublican
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To: CollegeRepublican

19 posted on 04/21/2003 6:47:28 AM PDT by CollegeRepublican
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To: Gumption
For years I was convinced the solution to our dependence on foreign oil was to develop hydrogen as an energy source. The problem is the technology is not available to make hydrogen a viable energy alternative.

This working plant that is operational today solves our to biggest problems. What do we do with all the garbage we produce that is overwhelming our landfills and how do we decrease our dependence on foreign oil.

20 posted on 04/21/2003 6:52:50 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway
Appel says, it is "the perfect process for destroying pathogens."

From what I have read, BSE (mad cow) does not breakdown under pressure or heat. It is probably caused by a protien prion that is resistant to these effects. It is an interesting article nonetheless.
21 posted on 04/21/2003 6:54:08 AM PDT by CollegeRepublican
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To: m1911
this one's building a production plant.

Has built a commercial plant that is operational today in Carthage, MO.

22 posted on 04/21/2003 6:54:21 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway
http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/projects/stewardship/turkey120402.html

This thing looks real.

I bet any money the environmental wackos will find something wrong with it though.

23 posted on 04/21/2003 6:58:04 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Drug prohibition laws help support terrorism.)
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To: CollegeRepublican
From the article:

A group of 15 investors and corporate advisers, including Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, stroll among the sparks and hissing torches, listening to a tour led by plant manager Don Sanders. A veteran of the refinery business, Sanders emphasizes that once the pressurized water is flashed off, "the process is similar to oil refining. The equipment, the procedures, the safety factors, the maintenance—it's all proven technology."

And it will be profitable, promises Appel. "We've done so much testing in Philadelphia, we already know the costs," he says. "This is our first-out plant, and we estimate we'll make oil at $15 a barrel. In three to five years, we'll drop that to $10, the same as a medium-size oil exploration and production company. And it will get cheaper from there."

"We've got a lot of confidence in this," Buffett says. "I represent ConAgra's investment. We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't anticipate success." Buffett isn't alone.

24 posted on 04/21/2003 6:58:29 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway
I got the impression it hadn't started working as of the writing of the article.

"The $20 million facility, scheduled to go online any day, is expected to digest more than 200 tons of turkey-processing waste every 24 hours. "
25 posted on 04/21/2003 6:59:07 AM PDT by m1911
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
"I bet any money the environmental wackos will find something wrong with it though."

That's easy - it's still hydrocarbon fuels. It doesn't do anything about greenhouse gases. In fact, it encourages them.
26 posted on 04/21/2003 7:00:17 AM PDT by m1911
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To: m1911
I am thinking the same thing. The thing that gets me is that the company has a pilot plant and investors. Real ones, by the sound of this article. Usually these "perpetual motion machine/zero point energy" scams are trying to get investors, this one's building a production plant.

Anytime you see the Buffets buying into something, that's a good indicator that this might be for real. His old man didn't get to be the 2nd richest man in the world by investing in perpetual motion.

27 posted on 04/21/2003 7:03:50 AM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: honway
With a sufficient energy input, any hydrocarbon can be converted into oil or gas. The fly in the ointment is that you might need more energy than can be recovered from the fuel you make. This is not necessarily a bad thing: synthesized gasoline made by energy from a nuclear plant is a wonderful way to store the energy since it is very dense and a liquid.

This has been known for at least a hundred years.

===========================

As I once described here, I was asked to evaluate a German patent which fed a wire of pure aluminum into a tank of water. A high voltage created a spark, which caused the reaction: 2Al +3H2O --> Al2O3 + 3H2. This reaction is an interesting 'redox' one, in which aluminum is oxidized and water is reduced (a neat trick). The resulting hydrogen was used in a modified car engine and burned with air.

No question it would work. BMW tested it.

The teensy little problem(s): All of the oxygen in the water was wasted; sequestered in the dense "ash" of Al2O3 (aluminum oxide) which had to be periodically removed in the form of sludge. Also, with pure aluminum at 70 cents per pound, gasoline would have to cost $12-$15 per gallon to make this scheme economically feasible.

In essence, it is a big storage battery which is charged up at the aluminum smelter by the huge amounts of energy needed to get the aluminum metal out of rock. Indeed, electrical prices and aluminum prices interact in a complex manner; each affecting the other. Some smelters have their own dedicated power plants.

--Boris

28 posted on 04/21/2003 7:07:24 AM PDT by boris (Education is always painful; pain is always educational)
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To: Orangedog
Yeah, that struck me too. Definately sounds like this is for real, and it's going to drive the enviroweenies nuts. No more "When you drive alone you drive with Osama" BS.
29 posted on 04/21/2003 7:07:26 AM PDT by m1911
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To: m1911
I got the impression it hadn't started working as of the writing of the article.

It's working, just not running in full production mode. It takes quite a while to bring any facility "on-line" for every day business operations. Incoming and outgoing logistics and internal procedures have to be set up for the operation to run at full capacity.

30 posted on 04/21/2003 7:08:33 AM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: m1911
I got the impression it hadn't started working as of the writing of the article.

Thanks for pointing that out.I will look for a source that confirms it's operational.

31 posted on 04/21/2003 7:09:05 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway; Orangedog
In any case, when I mentioned that it didn't seem to be running yet, I wasn't trying to run it down. This process is great on at least two levels: Waste reduction and energy self-sufficiency. Just being able to feed plastics into it and get oil back without adding more energy than you recover is amazing.
32 posted on 04/21/2003 7:11:33 AM PDT by m1911
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To: honway
if this technology woulda come on line a couple years ago, we might not be in iraq today?

matter of fact, the entire ME oil industry could become non essential.

plus we won't have to drill alaska!

p.s. tyson industries & all the illinois river floaters will love it!

33 posted on 04/21/2003 7:19:40 AM PDT by thinden
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To: boris
We've done so much testing in Philadelphia, we already know the costs," he says. "This is our first-out plant, and we estimate we'll make oil at $15 a barrel

The fly in the ointment is that you might need more energy than can be recovered from the fuel you make.

It appears they have solved this problem by using the gas produced in the process to provide the energy requirements.

34 posted on 04/21/2003 7:19:48 AM PDT by honway
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To: m1911
I'm all for anything that lets us tell the Middle East gutter trash to drink their damned oil. In the past, other types of alternative fuels could never get the politcal support, at least in part, because access to ME oil is considered a strategic asset. Now the reality is sinking in that we could very well be shut out of that region in the next 10 to 15 years. Regardless of how successful we have been in Iraq, the leaders in Washington know that the people in that region are a perfect example of fair-weather friends.
35 posted on 04/21/2003 7:22:07 AM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: honway
For those poo pooing this ... I am wondering if any of you can tell us here if you have better expertise than this...

"Alf Andreassen, a venture capitalist with the Paladin Capital Group and a former Bell Laboratories director."

I would like to believe your criticism however I know the people that work at Bell labs and I would imagine one would not become director of Bell Labs by moving up from Fry cook. Sometimes people do create amazing things that work even when you do not believe them.
36 posted on 04/21/2003 7:25:14 AM PDT by Walkingfeather
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To: honway
bump
37 posted on 04/21/2003 7:27:04 AM PDT by Tribune7
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To: CapandBall
Ping
38 posted on 04/21/2003 7:27:56 AM PDT by m1911
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To: boris
Thermal depolymerization, Appel says, has proved to be 85 percent energy efficient for complex feedstocks, such as turkey offal: "That means for every 100 Btus in the feedstock, we use only 15 Btus to run the process." He contends the efficiency is even better for relatively dry raw materials, such as plastics.
39 posted on 04/21/2003 7:29:09 AM PDT by honway
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To: thinden

40 posted on 04/21/2003 7:31:27 AM PDT by honway
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To: Walkingfeather
Sometimes people do create amazing things that work even when you do not believe them.

I also seem to recall a quote (can't remember the exact source) of Wilber Write declaring that secrets of powered flight were unlikely to be discovered within his lifetime. A couple of years later they were taking turns piloting the Write Flyer. Even in the weeks and months after their success, there were still a lot of people in the media claiming that it was a scam. The only thing that shut them up was when people actually started buying and flying the damn things.

41 posted on 04/21/2003 7:31:58 AM PDT by Orangedog (Soccer-Moms are the biggest threat to your freedoms and the republic !)
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To: m1911
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/living/health/5641957.htm

Posted on Wed, Apr. 16, 2003

Firm says it can create oil from waste products
By Tom Avril
Inquirer Staff Writer

Attention, Middle East oil barons! Some scientists toiling away in a South Philadelphia warehouse say they can give you fits. Their secret:

Turkey guts and old tires.

Those unwanted items, as well as plastics and anything else made of carbon and hydrogen, can be turned into oil. The scientists claim that the stuff is generally cleaner than what comes out of the ground, and that it would sharply reduce our dependence on foreign oil producers.

Don't believe it?

Neither does anyone else - at first.

"No variation," said Terry N. Adams, chief technology officer of Changing World Technologies Inc. "The initial reaction of everybody is skepticism."

Officials from the Long Island company demonstrated part of the waste-to-oil process yesterday at the Philadelphia Naval Business Center in a pilot plant built three years ago.

A full-scale plant is scheduled to go into operation later this month in Carthage, Mo. That $20 million plant will use the waste from a nearby turkey-processing plant owned by ConAgra Foods Inc., which formed a joint venture with Changing World to develop the technology.

Up to 200 tons a day of feathers, gristle, bones and fat will go in one end. Oil, similar to the stuff sold to heat homes, will come out the other.

The process is called "thermal depolymerization" - essentially heating the waste products in a low-oxygen environment so they break down into hydrocarbons without burning.

The concept has been around for decades, but no one has been able to do it cheaply enough to compete with drilling for oil.

Brian Appel, Changing World's chief executive officer, said the company's production costs were now $15 a barrel, not counting capital costs, compared with $5 to $13 a barrel for drilling for oil the old-fashioned way.

Appel said that, with the opening of additional plants, his costs would come down to near $5 a barrel.

Not everyone believes him, but plenty do. Based partly on the success of the Philadelphia plant, the venture received $14.5 million in federal grants to help build four more, including the one in Missouri.

The others also would be situated next to ConAgra facilities: Alabama (using leftover chicken parts), Nevada (onion husks), and Colorado (turkey waste). The grants are from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The City of Philadelphia also gave the company a $50,000 contract to study how to turn the city's sewage sludge into oil.

Scientists who have tried depolymerization in the past were intrigued by the company's claims, but said they would reserve judgment until they could see technical documentation.

"I would, of course, be skeptical until I could better understand what was going on," said Robert C. Brown, an engineering professor and head of the Center for Sustainable Environmental Technologies at Iowa State University.

Brown questioned whether the process required too much energy to heat the turkey guts and other raw materials, which are mixed with water and made into a slurry for processing.

He also questioned whether the raw materials would always be obtained so cheaply. For now, the company is counting on being paid to take old tires and other unwanted wastes.

"Once they're producing something as valuable as they say they are, people aren't going to give away dead chickens to them anymore," Brown said.

Ted Aulich, a University of North Dakota chemist who has researched a similar process for the plastics industry, said it might be economical but only in situations where a ready stream of waste were available.

"It's going to be a niche-type thing to start," Aulich said.

New government policies could work in favor of the venture. Just yesterday, for example, the Bush administration announced tougher rules for diesel emissions, requiring bulldozers and tractors to burn low-sulfur fuel. Changing World's oil is far lower in sulfur than what typically comes out of the ground.

Another boost could come from the growing concern over "mad cow" disease. Animal wastes have typically been ground up and sold as feed, but some have blamed that process for spreading the disease.

Acknowledging that turkey guts are not normally what comes to mind with South Philadelphia, Appel explained why the company chose the site for its research and development.

Kvaerner ASA was already there building the new shipyard, and was able to build a warehouse for Changing World at low cost. City officials also helped cut through environmental regulations and other red tape to lure the company, he said. In addition, the company secured a favorable lease on the property from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp.

"We've been embraced by the people of this city," Appel said.

If he finds a way to turn its sewage into oil, the city may embrace him even more.


42 posted on 04/21/2003 7:39:19 AM PDT by honway
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To: m1911
A full-scale plant is scheduled to go into operation later this month in Carthage, Mo

You are correct.

43 posted on 04/21/2003 7:40:59 AM PDT by honway
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To: honway
Oil alchemy? Or crude joke?
44 posted on 04/21/2003 7:43:57 AM PDT by Consort (Use only un-hyphenated words when posting.)
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To: honway
"It will make 21,000 gallons of water, which will be clean enough to discharge into a municipal sewage system."

So much for the world's water "crisis".

45 posted on 04/21/2003 7:50:03 AM PDT by William Terrell (People can exist without government but government can't exist without people.)
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To: honway
Soylent Green BTTT.

Interesting Technology.

46 posted on 04/21/2003 7:50:16 AM PDT by tcostell
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To: tcostell
"Oil is made of people!"
47 posted on 04/21/2003 7:55:54 AM PDT by m1911
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To: honway
This is an excellent post!

Ya know, I've been of the opinion for quite a long time, that all we need to solve just about any problem is an american with an idea and investors looking to make a profit.

If the process is as efficient as they are claiming, it could very well have serious geopolitical ramifications over the next 30 years. Just about every large agribusiness would find this process to be useful. I can even imagine the possibility of having folx who grow crops specifically for the purpose of rendering them into oil. These people rock, and I hope for 2 things. First, that it works as stated in the article. Second, for developing it, I hope the investors make obscene amounts of money.

48 posted on 04/21/2003 7:57:32 AM PDT by zeugma (If you use microsoft products, you are feeding the beast.)
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To: honway
It's a dam& muracull. Prounounced with a distinctly southern, and tinge of redneck accent. Actually this is a wait and see hope it works bump.
49 posted on 04/21/2003 8:06:11 AM PDT by wita (truthspeaks@freerepublic.com)
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To: honway
Any word on the date of the IPO?
50 posted on 04/21/2003 8:17:46 AM PDT by Freebird Forever
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