Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Turkey - our next oil source?

Who needs Iraq and the rest of the Middle East when we can get oil from Turkey?

No, not that one. The kind you eat for Thanksgiving.

If you haven't heard of Brian Appel, CEO of Changing World Technologies, maybe it's time you did. The most recent (May 2003) Discover magazine describes the company's thermal depolymerization process (TDP) as follows:
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.

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 then $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"
A few other points:
  • They can get about 100 units of energy in the feedstock at a cost of only about 15 units of heat input.
  • "The EPA doesn't even consider us waste handlers. We are actually manufacturers - that's what our permit says".
  • The process is scalable - plants can be sized to handle between a ton and 4000 tons of waste per day.
Pie in the sky? There's a full-scale plant here in Missouri, at Carthage outside a turkey processing plant. Each day 200 tons of turkey offal will be transformed into products such as 600 barrels of light oil. Lest you should miss the point, there's a big picture of the input with the article.

If you're at all interested in energy technologies, you can't miss this article. As this is written there is no link to the full article, but maybe it will show up after the next issue is released.

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