Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Free Energy?: Waste - to -Oil not Free But Good to Go

With several promising technologies for producing "free energy" now amongst us, experience is showing that, while nothing in life is "free" something looks sure to give in the near future. Thermal depolymerization, the technology required to efficiently transform plastic and all sorts of waste into oil and other usable products has been around for years.

These technologies were invented in the 1990s and the industry has been spearheaded by a privately-owned company, Changing World Technologies, (CWT) since it was founded in 1997 by Brian S Appel.

Unlike many world-changers, this one actually has or had functioning units in the field on a fully-scaled basis. But, just as the company seemed ready to literally change the world, a combination of factors have apparently stalled its progress.

A subsidiary started jointly with ConAgra Foods, Renewable Environmental Solutions, LLC,  (RES) has an industrial facility in Carthage. MO, that has proven capable of transforming 250 tons of turkey offal and fat per day into 500 barrels of renewable diesel. Located adjacent to the ConAgra Butterball turkey plant, the RES facility has run into a variety of problems, including higher than expected costs, resident complaints about odor, an unsuccessful IPO by the parent company, and presumably the collapse of oil prices in '08. It operated for years, was shut down in 2009 and is expected to reopen (or has reopened) shortly, apparently as a wholly-owned CWT property.

Appel has stated that by processing all the agricultural waste in the U.S. using this system, enough oil could be produced to eliminate imports.

Similar technology has been developed by the Blest company of Japan. This concept focuses on plastic to oil, also has working units in the field and has demonstrated some scalability. Again this technology has been around for a while.

Plastic to Oil Fantastic from UNUChannel on Vimeo.

Another plastic to oil player is Agilyx, in the U.S. They have been running a pilot operation in Portland, OR, and are presently ramping up a demonstration scale plant. Agilyx has recently announced major "upstream and downstream" investments from Waste Management and Total.

Agilyx, whose process yields approximately 200 to 240 gallons of synthetic crude per ton of waste plastic, is eyeballing the 162 million tons of industrial and municipal plastic finding its way to landfills each year.

Keeping in mind the these multiple ways of producing enough petroleum to quench American thirst are already out there, and that the oil sands of Alberta are also ramping and ready to build and fill new pipelines, it only adds to the intrigue when one considers, for example, the 38 million hectares of the non-edible oil crop, Jatropha, that are on the drawing board in India.

In a deal announced today between Bharat Petroleum and SG Biofuelssome 80,000 acres were specifically identified out of a total of 250,000 involved in the project. Under Indian government targets, in order for biofuels to meet 20% of the petro supply, 38 million hectares will need to be planted. According to regulations, the inedible oil crops must be planted on wasteland so as not to jeopardize food security.

We will continue to follow these developments as we try to get everything in perspective and develop an overview of the global energy situation, as we ll as Canadian and North American perspectives..

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