Friday, 30 May, 2003

Thermal Depolymerization

The May issue of Discover magazine has a fascinating article called Anything into Oil.  The article describes the thermal depolymerization process developed by Changing World Technologies that can turn just about anything organic (this includes many plastics, all kinds of tires, medical waste, and many other materials) into oil and other useful by-products.  The cost?  About 15% of the energy produced.  The outputs vary with the inputs, but usually include a light oil (similar to home heating oil), some gases, sterilized water, and refined carbon and metal solids.  Since gas is expensive to store and ship, the gas produced is used to power the machine.  The company has been developing its process in a small pilot facility in Philadelphia, and is just now opening a $20 million facility in Carthage, MO that will process 200 tons of turkey waste daily from the local Butterball Turkey plant.  The daily output?  600 barrels of oil, 21,000 gallons of water clean enough to discharge into a municipal sewage system, 11 tons of various saleable minerals, and about 10 tons of gas that will be used to power the system.

Now that is recycling.  I'm excited to see if it works as well as its hype.