From Turkey Parts to Crude Oil!
Wouldn't it be incredible to have all your friends and family over for Thanksgiving dinner and be able to take all the leftovers and unpalatable portions out into your yard and convert them into oil?
With a new technology, called Thermal Depolymerization, we may soon be able to do just that.
According to Brian Appel, chairman and CEO of Changing World Technologies, "This process can deal with the world's waste. It can supplement our dwindling supplies of oil. And it can slow down global warming."
The first industrial-scale Thermal Depolymerization plant was built in Carthage, Missouri, adjacent to a Butterball Turkey processing plant. Each day, two hundred tons of turkey remains are hauled to the newly-finished plant and transformed into assorted functional products including 600 barrels of light crude oil. This remains-derived oil is chemically almost identical to a number two fuel oil used to heat homes.
James Woolsey, former CIA director and an adviser to Changing World Technologies, maintains that this technology offers the beginning of a way out of the United States' dependence on foreign oil.
Thermal Depolymerization, according to Appel, has proved to be 85% energy efficient for complex feed stocks such as turkey remains. "That means for every 100 BTUs in the feedstock, we use only 15 BTUs to run the process."
Plastics and dry raw materials efficiency is even higher, contends Appel.
So how does this process work? "The other processes," Appel said, "all tried to drive out water. We drive it in, inside the tank, with heat and pressure. We super-hydrate the material."
In this process, pressures and temperatures need only be modest, because water assists to convey heat into the feedstock. "We're talking about temperatures of 500 degrees Fahrenheit and pressures of 600 pounds for most organic material not at all extreme or energy intensive. And the cooking times are relatively short, usually about fifteen minutes."
Phase two involves dropping the slurry to a lower pressure, which releases about ninety 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. At this stage, the water is sent back up to heat the next incoming stream. The minerals settle out and are forced to storage tanks. Rich in calcium and magnesium, this dry brown powder is "a perfect balanced fertilizer," Appel said.
The remaining organic soup is flushed into the second stage reactor, similar to the coke ovens used to refine oil into gasoline. This reactor heats up the soup to about nine hundred 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 columns, 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.
The test plant in Philadelphia has determined that the process is scalable; plants can cover acres or be small enough to go on the back of a flatbed truck. The technicians at this test plant have spent three years testing different kinds of affluent to formulate recipes. Experimentation revealed that different waste streams required different cooking and coking times.
European countries have prohibited the feeding of animal wastes to other animals a common practice for poultry in the U.S. (although since 1997, because of Mad Cow Disease, the U.S. has prohibited most feeding of recycled animal waste to cattle).
"In Europe, there are mountains of bones piling up," says Alf Andreassen, an investor. "When recycling waste into feed stops in this country, it will change everything."
"It is the perfect process for destroying pathogens," said Appel. "This process will make 10 tons of gasoline per day, which will go back into the system to make heat to power the system. It will make 21,000 gallons of water clean enough to discharge into a municipal water system. Pathological vectors will be completely gone. It will make eleven tons of minerals and six hundred barrels of oil high-quality stuff, the same specs as number two heating oil."
And he added, "It's amazing the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't even consider us waste handlers. We are actually manufacturers, that's what the permit says."
The new technology also promises profitability. "We've done so much testing in Philadelphia, we already know the costs," Appel said. "This is our first out plant, and we estimate we'll make oil at fifteen dollars a barrel. In three to five years, we'll drop that to ten dollars, the same as a medium-size oil exploration and production company. And it will get cheaper from there."
If Thermal Depolymerization works, as expected, it will clean up waste and generate new sources of power. Its supporters contend it could also reduce global warming. According to global warming theory, as carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, accumulates in the atmosphere, it traps solar radiation, which warms the atmosphere, and some say disrupts the planet's ecosystems. If the shift to global Thermal Depolymerization takes place, any carbon in the earth would stay there. The trappings of the civilized world plants, domestic animals, artificial objects, buildings would then be regarded as temporary carbon basins. Says Paul Baski, inventor of the Thermal Depolymerization process, "We would be honoring the balance of nature."
For more information:
Changing World Technologies: ChangingWorldTech.com.
A primer on the natural carbon cycle can be found at: WHRC.org/science/carbon/carbon.htm.
John Katers, University of Wisconsin, and David Drew at STS Consultants, Ltd., "Energy and Resource Recovery from Agricultural and Food Wastes," FreeRepublic.com/focus/f-news/897232/posts
"Anything into Oil (Solution to dependence on foreign oil?)," Discover Magazine, Vol.24 No.5, May 2003, Brad Lemley