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Thermal Depolymerization (TDP) is a process which seems to be able to convert any organic material into any product now produced from oil.
Organic materials include wood, leaves, grass, food, paper, plastic, paint, cotton, synthetic fabrics, sludge from sewage, animal parts, bacteria, any carbohydrates, or hydrocarbons. These are all materials which we now send to landfill with the exception of metal, ceramics, and glass. Also included is all agricultural waste which is now burned in the fields or buried.
Products currently produced from oil include natural gas, propane, kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, home heating oil, and lubricating oil. With further processing, plastics, paints, refrigerants, and thousands of other chemicals used in industry are produced.
So, it turns out that TDP will convert our landfill and agricultural waste into the same products which are currently produced from fossil oil. All of our existing equipment can be powered in the same way and landfill will be eliminated.
"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."
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."
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."
"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.
Originally posted by Paul
Very interesting find, Mojom.
Thermal Depolymerisation offers a good solution to oil shortage and waste management in theory. Who knows, perhaps it might take off commercially, at the moment though, its commercial viability is questionable.
The only functional industrial scale TD plant, in Carthage, Missouri, USA produces around 400 barrels a day from waste, but production costs are $80 a barrel. If they can reduce the production costs then they might be in business. Until then, its another good, yet impracticable/unviable idea.
Some further reading
[edit on 15-4-2005 by Paul]
1.)As of February, 2005, the Carthage plant received an economic setback. It was thought that concern over mad cow disease would prevent the use of turkey waste as cattle feed, and thus this waste would be free. However, turkey waste is still used as feed, so the feed stock costs from $30 to $40 per ton, adding $15 to $20 per barrel to the cost of the oil. Final cost is $80 a barrel, making it uneconomic compared to conventional diesel selling for about $50 a barrel. However, this setback does not apply to other forms of waste such as plastics. In addition, Britain has outlawed using turkey waste as cattle feed.
Originally posted by Mahree
Thermal Depolymerization (TDP) sounds "too good to be true".
The article you post seems to be calling for verification from; "completely independent engineers, scientists, and accountants to review the operation of the Carthage plant and the results of the pilot plant in Philly". Has there been any further update on any verification?
Killing germs, reducing waste, making oil: TDP might be the next big thing
This was going to be a column about oil. Instead, it's also about disease, poison, and a cool way to get rid of both. Actually, it's about a new technology — a new process that is going to make a Difference. One that's going to change things, and one you're going to be hearing a lot more about. (mojom - It would seem that someone or something is actually working to keep it quiet though, IMO. Now why would anyone want to do that?? I'd bet the "who" and "why" are linked by common motive so if you find out one you'd find the other as well!!)
The process is called thermal depolymerization or TDP, and the company that's doing it is West Hempstead, N.Y.-based Changing World Technologies.
Specifically, TDP turns just about anything into oil and fertilizer. And when I say "anything," I mean that: animal waste, medical waste, human waste. Used diapers, used computers, used tires. Anything that's not radioactive can be tossed into the hopper.
...And this is not just a theoretical process. It ain't cold fusion. TDP is real, out-of-the-lab stuff. It's happening on an industrial scale, today...
The City of Philadelphia currently turns a lot of its sewage sludge into landfill. (All together now: Eww.) But working with Changing World, the city is planning a TDP project to divert that sludge — and whatever pathogens are living in it — away from the land and into oil. Local power companies can then turn the oil into electricity. Win, win, win.
At first, it was the oil angle that was TDP's selling point. In case you hadn't noticed, we get a lot of ours from countries that don't like us very much. Then they give our money to people who use it to kill us. So TDP was being touted as a way to reduce our imports. In fact, get this: According to Appel, there are more than 12 billion tons of agricultural waste generated every year in the U.S. (And that's undoubtedly a low number; it's based on 1988 figures.) Were it all to be put through the TDP process it would turn into more than four billion barrels of light crude oil.
That ain't chicken feed. (Not once the system's done processing it, anyway.) According to the U.S. Department of Energy, we imported about 3.3 billion barrels of crude oil in 2002.
In other words, if we converted just our agricultural waste to light crude using TDP, we could stop our oil imports…and then some.
link to the rest....
...and from 2005 Fortune Magazine...
A Turkey In Your Tank
link to rest
To use the tons of trash polluting our world, and in the process not adding to the pollution of the air, with the result of producing the energy needs of the world. How can you beat that?
Or have I misunderstood what TDP is about?
Originally posted by TJ11240
So why hasn't there been more press on this groundbreaking technology?
I'm sure people would love to hear about this.
Originally posted by TJ11240
From what I've gathered, I understand the waste product to be a mix of minerals. This mainly depends on what went into the machine. Products from metal scraps and plastics would differ greatly from biomass.
And I don't think those minerals would become pollutants. Many dangerous compounds produced from heavy machinery are relatively large molecules. Remember, TDP breaks down the large into the small. But we'll have to wait and see if my guess is true.
You may be saying "wait isnt the oil it produces just polluting the atmosphere?" That is true, but remember that it doesn't affect the current carbon dioxide levels. Nothing is taken from the ground during the process. So it wont contribute to global warming.