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[P]
Blood for Oil

By onyxruby in Technology
Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:12:25 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

"Blood for Oil", much quoted, maligned and abused, this catch phrase now has scientific credibility. A new technological process developed in the United States and already in commercial use is converting blood and other animal waste byproducts into oil. ConAgra's giant turkey processing plant in Philadelphia is using this to make oil at a cost of $15 per barrel.


Discover has an excellent article describing the process and science involved. In essence, all life as we know it, is carbon based. Oil, gas and natural gas are all carbon based products, the final burial ground of hundreds of millions of years of life. In short, the process involved has simply accelerated natural processes that turn carbon based products into oil.

The potential for creating oil with this process is tantalizing, as described in this quote

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.
The process has been up and running in a test facility for three years. Funding has come from well known sources, including the US Federal Government. Additional proof of concept plants are being built in cooperation with various government agencies in several locations within the US. Another full scale commercial plant is days away from completion and will very shortly enter production.

They have successfully converted everything from ground up computers, tires, raw sewage, plastics, wood and metal into water, oil, gas and fertilizer. Other products such as industrial acids, used for everything from printer ink to PVC piping can be made with this process. The products going in dictate what chemicals come out.

The excess water from the material is clean enough to pour directly into the storm drain, and they don't even need an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) permit to run the plant. No product that they have yet put into the intake produces toxic extract, despite the product being toxic to begin with.

Significantly, the process appears to be quite energy efficient, operating at a fairly good energy return rate. To quote:

Thermal depolymerization, Appel says, has proved to be 85 percent energy efficient for complex feedstocks, such as turkey offal: "That means for every 100 Btus in the feedstock, we use only 15 Btus to run the process." He contends the efficiency is even better for relatively dry raw materials, such as plastics.
This process has been proven to work, has been publicly reviewed, investors and reporters have actually been able to watch it happen. It is not noted in the article if this has been put forth to widespread scientific peer review. What we do know is that the US Federal Government usually demands oversite when they provide research funding, and I am assuming that they have done so here. At the very least we know that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has reviewed the process and classified it as "manufacturing" and not "hazardous waste" in nature.

More importantly, it has also been proven to be cost effective. Since cost effectiveness will determine how widespread and adopted this technology becomes, this is critical. The environmental potential alone is staggering, with both waste reduction/reuse and energy creation implications. Now proven, it's likely just a matter of time before this spreads worldwide as communities seek to reduce their need for imported oil and to ameliorate environmental issues in everybody's backyards.

And what is your potential post-moterm contribution to the worlds energy needs?

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.

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Poll
Oil companies
o Will go tits up 7%
o Will license this and build facilities worldwide 27%
o Will co-exist as competition 6%
o Just won't make as much profit 1%
o Will buy the patents and bury the technology 44%
o Are nervous 4%
o Will use their technology to improve this 8%

Votes: 120
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o article
o Also by onyxruby


Display: Sort:
Blood for Oil | 207 comments (185 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
It's good to feel needed <n/t> (4.40 / 10) (#9)
by carbon on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:08:50 AM EST



Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
I can't wait... (4.20 / 5) (#10)
by Kasreyn on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:35:08 AM EST

...until those whose business models will be threatened by this start trying to suppress it. Ahhhh, capitalism, where if you can send the future to hell in a handbasket for extra bags of cash today, you're doing the right thing!


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Only if you're in Europe (3.60 / 5) (#18)
by Demiurge on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:59:17 AM EST

Where strigent government regulation would crush a start-up like this before it got off the ground. Despite what you've been reading in pamphlets from the local hemp store, Texaco could not stop this.

[ Parent ]
Crush? (none / 0) (#20)
by Ward57 on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:25:21 AM EST

I don't know about crush. I think the idea is that the regulations are all reasonable (how they can claim to know whether soomething *that* complicated is reasonable or not I don't know). Everybody forgets at least *one* regulation.

[ Parent ]
the regulations are to protect industry (none / 0) (#111)
by Delirium on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:45:44 PM EST

Many regulations, both in the US and the EU, are designed to protect established industry. Europe, with its socially-oriented policies that generally favor job stability over market change, is especially egregious in this respect, subsidizing and over-regulating anything from national airlines to agriculture (though the U.S. has been known to do some controversial things now and then as well, such as the recent steel industry protectionist tarriffs).

[ Parent ]
Agriculture (none / 0) (#135)
by Krazor on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:14:10 AM EST

Agriculture subsidies in the EU are handelled by CAP. They are not designed to keep the market place stable, but were meant to make Europe able to feed it self after the Second World War. As a result the subsidies have changed over the years depending on what Europe needs, for example subsidies were introduced for oil seed rape when it was seen as needed.

The idea that CAP protects jobs is a bit odd seeing as most small farms have been replaced by much larger farms with a lot more mechanisation (and therefore fewer jobs) and who then farm for the subsidies.

(This is not to say, I support CAP, just pointing stuff out)

[ Parent ]
Feed the liberals to the machine! (2.00 / 10) (#13)
by Keeteel on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 02:05:30 AM EST

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. While no one plans to put people into a thermal depolymerization machine, an intimate human creation could become a prime feedstock. "There is no reason why we can't turn sewage, including human excrement, into a glorious oil," says engineer Terry Adams, a project consultant. So the city of Philadelphia is in discussion with Changing World Technologies to begin doing exactly that.


Our energy problems are over, and our political problems are over. Liberals can provide our oil for years to come! Source on man-to-oil statistics

heh. Hello Freerepublic my old friend (none / 0) (#15)
by DominantParadigm on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 02:17:09 AM EST

To: honway if this technology woulda come on line a couple years ago, we might not be in iraq today? matter of fact, the entire ME oil industry could become non essential. plus we won't have to drill alaska! p.s. tyson industries & all the illinois river floaters will love it! 33 posted on 04/21/2003 7:19 AM PDT by thinden [ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies ]

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
In the end we're all Polynesian cannibals (none / 0) (#88)
by Eater on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:25:51 PM EST

No offence to any Polynesian cannibals out there.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
Keeteel... aka Ad Hominem (none / 0) (#186)
by slur on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:22:16 PM EST

Truly, you should change your nickname to Ad Hominem. Keeteel is too close to the word "substance."

|
| slur was here
|

[ Parent ]
egads, that picture (3.50 / 2) (#14)
by demi on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 02:16:09 AM EST

yuck...

let's not kid ourselves here (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by demi on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 02:21:10 AM EST

...it is peer reviewable (sic)...

That has little or nothing to do with whether or not the process is efficacious or credible. If anything, it sounds like something you would tell an investor fresh from a retirement community in Boca Raton.

Flashback to 1990 (3.00 / 1) (#145)
by bobpence on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:40:31 AM EST

My first full-time job, only a few months after I had been very involved in Earth Day. The monthly company newsletter had its big environmental issue (no earlier than August - I started the job within a day of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait - when the big 20th Anniversary Earth Day love fest had been in April). B.S. detectors kicked into overdrive at this memorable line, couched as evidence of the company's environmentalism: "this newsletter is printed on 100% recyclable [sic] paper!"

True, there were some concerns at the time about glossy paper that was harder to recycle, but that topic was not mentioned in the newsletter. Clearly the line was pure misdirection. To its credit, the company did start (five months after the big Earth Day) recycling paper and plastic at all of its locations.

Not that they were the only corporate weasels. In the breakroom, the boxes of Styrofoam(tm) cups bore the proud boast, "contains no fluorocarbons." Of course the concern was never that these foam products contained chlorofluorocarbons (1990's answer to hexavalent chromium), but that they were produced or consumed or used or something in the production process for foam products.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]

Too Good to be True? (3.85 / 7) (#22)
by OldCoder on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:10:36 AM EST

Sounds exactly like the original announcements of Cold Fusion (the energy process, not the software). Come to think of it where are Pons and Fleischman now that we need them?

Before I'd invest, I'd run the fingerprints of these guys through the FBI fingerprint database; This sounds like the ideal investment scam.

The Home Page for the company says virtually nothing about how it really works. Although the web site seems to have more information today than even yesterday. So I'm hopeful but skeptical. On the other hand, if this thing pans out like we think it could:

  1. The owners will be richer than Bill Gates.
  2. They'll be sued for Copyright infringement by schemers hoping to settle.
  3. Terrorist funding dries up. Arabs go back to Pearl diving.
  4. Possible shortages of garbage and solid waste.
  5. Midnight robberies from my septic tank.
  6. Even bigger SUV's?
  7. Lower fuel prices result in greater carbon emissions.
  8. Lower fuel prices result in economic boom.
  9. Palestinian Pacifists settle for "Autonomous Zones" in Israel.
  10. These guys had better watch out for Palestinian Hit Squads
  11. These guys had better watch out for Exxon Hit Squads
  12. These guys had better watch out for al-Queda Hit Squads
  13. These guys had better watch out for Saudi Hit Squads
If it doesn't work out, it'll be a contest to see which paranoid conspiracy theory does the best; Oil Company Suppression of Technology or Arab Billionaire Buy-Out?

On a more serious note, does the US, for example, produce enough poop and garbage to generate enough bio-fuel to make a big difference? Will Kudzu be our economic salvation? Learn more about this amazing weed. If Kudzu is the lynchpin, in fact, if agriculture (without large petrochemical inputs) can provide the inputs, then the South (in the US) will be the Oil Producing Region, and will be even more prosperous than today. Imagine — Kudzu Tycoons!

And what's the poop on Poop? How much do we make? And how much do we need? Can the process be scaled down so we can all generate fuel in our backyards?

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder

Hey cool. (none / 0) (#25)
by tkatchev on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:06:12 AM EST

Just like "Back to the Future" part I-don't-remember-which.

That movie must have been prophetic.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

info-blip (none / 0) (#28)
by jolt rush soon on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:11:32 AM EST

part 2 - doc brings out the new flying car.
--
Subosc — free electronic music.
[ Parent ]
Nope, part 1 (none / 0) (#51)
by t v on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:53:58 PM EST

Actually, at the very end of part one as Marty is in front of the house when the Doc says that something has to be done about his kids.  I don't recall off-hand if Marty got in the car or not, but the Doc poured the garbage in, floated above the trees and took off.

I know, I know - minor technicality.  I saw the movie again just a few weeks ago and rememebr this.

[ Parent ]

Mr. Fusion! - nt (none / 0) (#71)
by Verminator on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:42:32 PM EST


If the whole country is gonna play 'Behind The Iron Curtain,' there better be some fine fucking state s
[ Parent ]
Conspiracy Theories (none / 0) (#37)
by Kwil on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:09:04 PM EST

You forgot:

Military Confiscation

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Verification attempts (4.50 / 2) (#68)
by sien on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:07:18 PM EST

Since this appeared on metafilter a while back I've sent the link to two chemists and on to people who can forward it on to others who know about this stuff. One of the chemists who is Organic Chemist at Harvard said it sounds reasonable as did the other chemist. No-one else has got back saying it is not valid. The backing of Warren Buffet is pretty serious too. Until it's confirmed by a number of other sources it shouldn't be taken as definitely true, but it seriously may well be true.

[ Parent ]
Two Sided Coin (3.66 / 3) (#26)
by randinah on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:44:41 AM EST

Although on the surface this sort of technology seems like a really good thing, I'm a little disappointed.

Lately more and more companies have been faced with the fact that oil will not last forever. Ford, Toyota, and Honda have been tinkering with more environmentally safe vehicles, and many oil companies have invested money into companies who research cleaner fuels.

With a new technology like the one described in this article becoming more and more viable, it allows governments like the US to put any initiative to fund cleaner energy right back onto the back burner. I'm not so sure I like that idea.


"Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?"
So it isn't that you care about... (none / 0) (#89)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:31:40 PM EST

... a solution to energy needs, but that you care about the solution being the one that you like to hear? I don't understand this, and it seems somehow a bit immature (no offense intended). I like alternative energy solutions a great deal, and I look forward to them getting better as the development of the underlying technologies continues to the point that they are no longer "alternative". However, if synthetic oil and some sort of atmospheric C02 scrubbers (organic or whatever) works as a viable system to provide humans with energy and sustainable environmental impact, then cool. Lets use that.

Personally, I am very suspicious of this new process, just because amazing claims of super good news always make me suspicious.



[ Parent ]

no no no (none / 0) (#99)
by randinah on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:45:40 PM EST

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm simply saying that - on the surface this sounds like a wonderful possibility...

The downside unfortunately is that I have this bad feeling that if certain companies like ConAgra get this sort of thing up and running they'll start lobbying against other forms of energy just like Exxon, Texaco, and Shell do now.

It'd be much better for us as a world in the long run if we invest a real amount of money into a clean energy source rather than taking the most obvious and easist route and in my eyes, doing the immature thing: getting our oil from dead animals and leaving any progress we've made in clean energy by the wayside.




"Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?"
[ Parent ]
But this touches a bigger issue (none / 0) (#107)
by ocelotbob on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 09:46:28 PM EST

Right now, the products in question are essentially waste. That is, they are, by and large, taken to a facility and disposed of. Now, many of these substances are not very friendly; they spread disease, and generally tend to screw up the surrounding area, even if they are biological in nature. What this process does is allow us to use what is currently waste in creating products we currently get from petroleum refining, which is a very dirty, costly procedure.

I'm the first to agree that we need cleaner energy sources,and that research should definitely continue. However, we're going to need interum sources while the technology advances to the point where we can feasibly migrate over to these new sources. People aren't going to all of the sudden, as a group, decide to go out and buy a new $20000-$30000 hydrogen powered vehicle just because it's more fuel efficient than the perfectly functional car that's sitting in the driveway. People are going to weigh in the costs continuously until they feel that it's much more worth it for them to purchase a new mode of transport that better serves their needs than to continue using their current mode. Until they do migrate, it only makes sense to provide a migration path that is more environmently friendly than petrochemical drilling.

Why... in my day, the idea wasn't to have a comfortable sub[missive]...
--soylentdas
[ Parent ]

O.k. (none / 0) (#117)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:53:16 PM EST

Sorry, I think I came off a bit condescending before.

So, if I'm understanding your clarification, you are worried that this would likely cause the rise of even more vested interests against cleaner energy sources. I figure it could easily do that. However, in the long run (meaning a few hundred years), I figure some of the better alternatives will still win out on their merits.



[ Parent ]

I hope so (n/t) (none / 0) (#174)
by randinah on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 08:09:18 PM EST


"Why waste time learning when ignorance is instantaneous?"
[ Parent ]
How strange (2.85 / 7) (#27)
by Peter Vile on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:53:37 AM EST

"Paul Baskis, the inventor of the process" says that he filed patents for this in the late 1980s.  I can't seem to find a relevant patent grant for this "thermal depolymerization" process, or indeed any patents for Paul Baskis nor for the new owner Brian Appel, nor for Changing World Technologies, nor does the Changing World Technologies web site mention any patents, which is a pretty big omission for a company looking for funding.

Say, I wonder how much oil you can get out of snakes with this process?

---
rusty made nowhere near $80K this year for posting diaries about how fucking great it is spending our money.

How closely did you look? (5.00 / 6) (#35)
by hatshepsut on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 12:54:11 PM EST

Using your link, but doing my own new search:

Baskis 1992

Baskis 1993

Baskis 1994

Admittedly, these aren't the exact dates mentioned in the original article, but the process described appears to match. I got these by searching for "baskis", but not specifying which field to look in (i.e. use "all fields").

[ Parent ]

You obviously didn't search very hard... (5.00 / 5) (#43)
by Silverfish on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:25:12 PM EST

Patent #5,269,947: Thermal depolymerizing reforming process and apparatus

[ Parent ]
I not sure I understand this (4.33 / 3) (#29)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:32:42 AM EST

Call me crazy, but once you have the oil, would it not still be burned, causing the same environmental effects as the oil we burn now does?

I though the bad thing about fossil fuel was mainly the pollution they caused when the were used, how does this help us any?

In fact, having created a renewable source of oil is probably one of the worst things anyone could ever do. The only thing that will force a capitalist society to move to a cleaner source of energy is if that energy is economically viable. This pushes that goal further away.

If this takes off, we will continue to pollute at ever increasing rates, a bad thing in my opinion.
 

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

Burning oil (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by epepke on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:41:56 AM EST

The idea is that the carbon came from the atmosphere just a few years ago rather than millions of years ago. So it essentially involves reusing the same carbon over and over again rather than pumping carbon from a very different time in the history of the planet into the atmosphere.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
logic?? (2.66 / 3) (#32)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:47:07 AM EST

Where the hell is it?

Are you saying that there will never be an increase in production, ever?

We're already using the same carbon over and over again... what difference does it make if it was in an animal 6 million years ago or if it was in an animal yesterday... it supposed to go back into the GROUND, not in the air, and not in ever increasing quantities.

Sorry, it just doesn't add up.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Logic? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by epepke on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 12:50:18 PM EST

We're already using the same carbon over and over again... what difference does it make if it was in an animal 6 million years ago or if it was in an animal yesterday...

The difference is that, during the time that the fossil fuels are supposed to have been laid down, the Earth was a much warmer place than it is now. The fear is that releasing that much carbon into the atmosphere will affect the world's climate. There is also the possibility, not yet strongly confirmed, that oil is not fossil at all but is the result of a geological process.

Now, I do not have strong opinions on global warming. I do not know that it is a significant change; it may just be a small one. Furthermore, there were periods in history where the CO2 levels were significantly higher than now, such as the Roman times. Furthermore, I do not know that global warming would be a bad thing.

I am simply explaining the rationale in response to a comment that appeared prima facie to be a request for such an explanation. Period. I am not an advocate; I'm simply explaining. If you want someone to argue with, you would probably be much happier choosing someone with strong opinions on the matter.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I don't know what you're trying to say... (none / 0) (#39)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:18:40 PM EST

Ok, you've lost me here.

My point is that I don't think it matters where the carbon comes from, whether a dinosaur, or dead Uncle Larry. It is the simple fact that an uncontroled quantitative release of said carbon causes pollution of our atmosphere.

Unless you're somehow saying that fossil fuels are somehow realeasing more carbon into the atmosphere then buring D.U.L. would, it has nothing to do with where it comes from, and everything to do with what we do with it.

Now, the end result of this is undetermined, but it will affect us nonetheless. Reducing that impact is, in my mind, our most important concern.

But back to my original question: How does burning oil from a difference source in any way change (improve) this end result, and if the answer is that it doesn't, why bother with it?


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Sustainable and cyclical (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by mont4g on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 02:05:14 PM EST

  1.  Grow crops.  Crops capture carbon dioxide.
  2.  Eat edible portion of crops.  
  3.  Process waste from crops and sewage waste through process.  Produce fertilizer for more crops, and hydrocarbon fuel (containing carbon dioxide originally captured by crops.)
  4.  Use fertilizer in step 1.
  5.  Use fuel to fuel cars, stoves, etc.  Carbon dioxide rereleased for crops in step 1.  Conservation of matter.
  6.  Profit!


[ Parent ]
logic is astounding... (2.66 / 3) (#45)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 02:13:18 PM EST

that works wonders until you consider that co2 emmssions from cars != to co2 intact from plants... hence the reason we have the problems in the first place.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
eh? (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by SilentNeo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:49:20 PM EST

Perhaps you had better go retake chemistry. While there are other biproducts, combustion is mostly Hydrocarbon + O2 = CO2 + H20 (yes, your car makes water. So do you, chemically you do the same thing just a molecule at a time)

This cycle has been going on for millions of years. In addition, dead plants are only trapped when the conditions are right under the ground. Most of the time though when they decay the C02 enters the atmosphere again.

Thus over millions of years bogs and things have ever so slowly reduced the total carbon available to the biosphere. It stays trapped under the ground as oil, coal, gas, ect and would still be there if it hadn't be dug or pumped out (or released in a volcano. It is believed that the lions share of the CO2 emmissions the Earth is guilty for). Yes, at one time the earth's ecosystem thrived in a much higher C02 level environment, but most existing plants and animals are no longer suitable.

Because the change (adding carbon to the system) is happening over a period of centuries instead of tens of millenia, evolution cannot possibly keep up. This means that eventually adding too much carbon may cause negative effects.

Fortunatly, for manufacturing desired items (everything made of plastic and other compounds) there is far more than sufficient carbon in the ecosystem to make anything conceivable with current world economies. The only thing a constant supply of hydrocarbons is needed for is cheap energy. With sufficient investment, however, more than adequate energy is available with existing nuclear technology and possibly other sources for nearly any imaginable use. Cutting the jugular on middle eastern oil is quite doable, in fact stopping the import of all oil is possible with sufficient investment.

However, for vast quantities of resources and labor have gone into the construction of our existing oil infrastructure. Trillions of dollars. This means that any conceivable change, even if it is cheaper, could take many decades to pay for itself, tying up vast quantities of resources that might go to other things. This is the real reason why it may prove to be cheaper just to get more oil to drive the machine.

While no-one says this, for less than a trillion dollars the entire middle east could be seized militarily. There is probably ten times that dollar value in oil there. This would be a far more profitable investment than converting the entire country to windmills and hydrogen power, for instance.

It could even be better for many of the people in these nations. Much of the resources being paid to them is diverted into the hands of a few. In addition, these few didn't earn it : the vast majority of the work to even get the oil was supplied by foreign oil companies.

[ Parent ]

Are you sure? (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by dipierro on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:05:18 PM EST

In addition, dead plants are only trapped when the conditions are right under the ground. Most of the time though when they decay the C02 enters the atmosphere again.

That's the key question. More specifically, do decaying chickens release CO2 into the atmosphere? If so, then that is the answer to Run's question. If you get oil from chickens that is merely CO2 which would be released into the atmosphere anyway. If you burn oil, that is CO2 that would have remained trapped under the earth otherwise.

Do you have a link to back that up? My quick overview of this description of the carbon cycle seems to suggest that isn't the case.



[ Parent ]
Carbon in waste tends to end up as methane (none / 0) (#58)
by Amorsen on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:23:57 PM EST

...if not otherwise disposed of. In Denmark we generally try to burn as much waste as possible. After all, CO2 is not half as bad a greenhouse gas as CH4 is. Storing carbon permanently in landfills is pretty hard; carbon compounds are the basic fuel for most everything in nature that does not use sunlight directly.

[ Parent ]
Yes (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by SilentNeo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:27:26 PM EST

"More specifically, do decaying chickens release CO2 into the atmosphere"

Absolutely 100% positive. This isn't even biology 101. If you really want me to spend time digging up a link...sigh, here one is. Look down the page, note what it says about detritus food chain. This is all our depolymer plant is really doing : gaining some of the energy the bacteria that rot this stuff naturally use to replicate.

[ Parent ]

you missed something... (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:48:04 PM EST

in your attempt to give me a chemisty lesson, you made a grave error: you forgot the element of time.

The cycle only stays static if it's all moving at the same time.

Let's say we have a total of 100 carbon particles in the cycle. Let's also assume that 70 of those are in the ground, 20 in living matter and 10 in the air. (yes, I know my percentages are off, bare with me)

Let's continue this by saying that it takes 50 years from a particle to naturally go from living matter to the ground and/or air. The problem with burning large quantities of carbon is that it only takes (say) 1 year to go from the living matter (fuel) to the air, compound that with the fact that none of it goes into the ground at all.

Eventually, the cycle becomes unbalanced, and you end up with a larger and larger amount of those 100 particles in the air, regardless of whether you draw that extra percentage from the 70 (ground) or the 20 (living matter).

See where I'm getting here?  

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Think Deeply (none / 0) (#195)
by OldCoder on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 08:09:41 AM EST

Your plan is, in effect, to burn plants instead of oil from the ground. If we don't grow additional plants, then the amount of carbon being taken from the air by plants doesn't go up. Since we're burning about the same amount of carbon, the amount of carbon being added back to the air doesn't change much either.

If we can grow additional plants (without pumping additional oil to fertilize the plants?), this would take more carbon out of the air. If we could burn hydrogen instead of carbon this would put less carbon back into the air.

So if the process can, in net, get more carbon from the air and convert it to some solid in-the-ground form, and can get hydrogen separated out and then use that as fuel, we will be ahead.

If harvesting the kudzu over-growing the southern US would increase the growth rate of that kudzu field, then that might be enough to get us started in the right direction.

I still think Cold Fusion was a better idea, but this (TDP) might be more practical.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

Well (5.00 / 2) (#48)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:34:01 PM EST

I don't have strong opinions on the matter, either, and I'm not an expert. I'm skeptical that this process will be as important as the hype promises. But I think I understand the thinking behind the idea that this would be an ecological boon, if the process can produce enough oil.

My point is that I don't think it matters where the carbon comes from...

That's why you don't understand. It does matter.

The biosphere once contained some relatively stable amount of carbon - call it C. Carbon in the atmosphere regularly becomes a part of plants and animals; if the plants and animals are burned or eaten, the oxidation releases the carbon back into the atmosphere, where the carbon cycle repeats. So C used to stay pretty much the same - the carbon went around and around from air, to tree, to air, to algae, to air, to grass, to air, to buffalo-meat, to air... etc.

Fossil fuels changed the picture because they're not part of the biosphere and not part of the carbon cycle. Burning fossil fuels adds carbon to the biosphere. The new carbon does become a part of the carbon cycle, but no one can say how much carbon the carbon cycle can effectively manage. Every year we add extra carbon to the biosphere and to the cycle; the cycle now manages some amount like C + (~200 years of fossil fuels) x (average extra carbon per year), a trend that will continue as long as we keep adding carbon to the biosphere (by burning natural fossil fuels) without doing anything special to remove it.

Unless you're somehow saying that fossil fuels are somehow releasing more carbon into the atmosphere then burning D[ead] U[ncle] L[arry] would...

Equivalent amounts of natural fossil fuel and synthetic fossil fuel will release equivalent amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. The difference is that, in the case of the synthetic stuff, the carbon was already a part of the biosphere, and the carbon cycle. So the total load of the carbon cycle is unchanged, whereas the natural fuel adds to the load of the carbon cycle.

It's true that none of this addresses other, non-carbon types of pollution. But at least here in the US, we've improved our ability to burn fossil fuels cleanly quite a lot in the past 30 years or so. It's not the problem it used to be.

Questions like "Does atmospheric carbon really cause global warming?" and "How big a deal would a couple of degrees be, anyway?" are best debated elsewhere, and by someone else.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
ok, (none / 0) (#50)
by Run4YourLives on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:51:19 PM EST

I understand that if we keep the same amount of carbon in the system, there would be a cycle of carbon use.

But here's the kicker: your design only allows for a finite number of carbon particles (X) to be used by us as "buring material" any any given time. If X is not equal or greater than the total amount of fuel required, then the cycle fails, and we are left with the status quo, that is, the build up of carbon in the atmosphere.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Well (none / 0) (#60)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:27:43 PM EST

Actually, I think it's the slowness of the cycle that's the limiting factor, not the amount of carbon in it. There are many billions (trillions? more?) of tons of carbon in the biosphere; we'd need only a tiny fraction of it at any time for fuel. But a tree that takes 50 years to grow can be consumed as fuel in a day. You need faster production of fuel when everyone on the planet has their own car.

In any case, you're right, if we can't get enough synthetic or biological fuel, or if we can't get it fast enough, we'll continue to turn to fossil fuels and add carbon to the cycle. That's why I'm skeptical about the garbage-to-oil system's importance; I don't think it will produce enough fuel to stop the carbon build-up, or even to change oil prices much. Used on a huge scale, it might slow the build-up down a little, though, and that would probably be a good thing.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
Otherwise? (none / 0) (#173)
by qbwiz on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:58:30 PM EST

What would happen to this junk if it wasn't converted into fuel? Would the carbon go into the atmosphere(through biological processes) or would it stay in the ground? If it stays in the ground, then there wouldn't be any problem, as we will only use a limited amount of fuel, and wherever they fuel comes from, with limited consumption we will only release a limited amount into the atmosphere.

[ Parent ]
Problem? (none / 0) (#188)
by Lagged2Death on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:35:55 PM EST

What would happen to this junk if it wasn't converted into fuel? Would the carbon go into the atmosphere(through biological processes) or would it stay in the ground?

Like I said, I'm not an expert. In the case of turkey scraps, if they're not converted into fuel, they're usually converted into animal feed. From there, some of it probably ends up in the atmosphere relatively quicky, some of it less quickly.

If it stays in the ground, then there wouldn't be any problem...

I don't understand - what problem? The carbon in the garbage, and thus in the oil made from it, is already part of the carbon cycle. It isn't a problem by itself, regardless of what happens to it.

...we will only use a limited amount of fuel...

Don't we just wish. We'll use all of the fuel we can lay our hands on, just as we always have done, I expect.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
See my Carbon Comment (none / 0) (#171)
by OldCoder on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:41:47 PM EST

At this page.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]
The idea, I think... (none / 0) (#42)
by Noodle on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:19:56 PM EST

...is that a little more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a fair trade for all the garbage in our landfills and sewage in our rivers.

{The Nefarious Noodle}
[ Parent ]

Carbon Impact Depends on exactly How we do it. (none / 0) (#170)
by OldCoder on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:34:22 PM EST

If we grow the fuel for this TDP with hydrocarbon input crops (typical US corn crop, for example), we're not better off in terms of carbon. This is because the amount of petroleum used to grow the crop is too great. If we use kudzu or another no-input weed, then the effect of the carbon balance depends on whether we are growing more plants or just burning the plants we have.

That is, if the current kudzu/willow/turkey-gut biomass is currently being buried, then putting it through the TDP and combusting it will move carbon from the earth/plant area to the atmosphere, instead of moving carbon from the underground oil wells or coal mines to the atmosphere, and should have little effect on the amount of atmospheric carbon.

On the other hand, if we stop using some amount of fossil fuels and replace that with additional growth of kudzu or other no-input weeds, then the additional plant growth will take additional carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere before we burn it to recycle the carbon dioxide back into the air. This would be a good thing. Plant scientists? Want to comment?

It should also be possible to convert biomass to reduced-carbon forms that have that separate pile of black carbon pouring out of it and a lighter hydrocarbon out another port that can be used as a source of Hydrogen for fuel cells or direct combustion (or dirigibles). We don't know yet if this is practical. But it may be the 64 billion dollar question.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

Certainly true (none / 0) (#201)
by epepke on Tue Apr 29, 2003 at 03:16:39 AM EST

If we grow the fuel for this TDP with hydrocarbon input crops (typical US corn crop, for example), we're not better off in terms of carbon. This is because the amount of petroleum used to grow the crop is too great.

That's certainly true. Remember the "gasohol" craze, ended when people finally figured out that it takes more oil to grow those crops? The same thing is true for biodiesel. None of these schemes are likely to replace current oil consumption. On the other hand, making better use of waste products that would ordinarily just rot would be a good thing.

It should also be possible to convert biomass to reduced-carbon forms that have that separate pile of black carbon pouring out of it and a lighter hydrocarbon out another port that can be used as a source of Hydrogen for fuel cells or direct combustion (or dirigibles). We don't know yet if this is practical. But it may be the 64 billion dollar question.

Hydrogen still has some problems. It's hard to store. It tends to leak out of pressurized containers, and existing metal hydrides are either too expensive or require tricky temperatures. Plus, burning hydrogen in an atmosphere with nitrogen tends to produce more nitrous oxide than is strictly desirable. Fuel cells are still pretty tricky to make with little energy and not require a lot of maintenance.

It's really quite hard to beat gasoline. The stuff basically just sits there in a container, and it has a lot of energy. Gasoline vapor is pretty explosive, though.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
The problem with fossil fuel (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by dipierro on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:55:41 PM EST

I though the bad thing about fossil fuel was mainly the pollution they caused when the were used, how does this help us any?

That's only one bad thing, and it's pretty much the smallest problem. The other bad things are the reliance on other countries, the spills during transportation, the environmental impact caused by drilling sites, the fact that there's only a limited supply, and the harsh working conditions that the workers at those sites are subject to.

This solves all of those problems. It doesn't solve the carbon dioxide problem, at least to the extent that we use waste products which would have otherwise gone into the ground. But whether or not there even is a carbon dioxide problem is disputed.

In fact, having created a renewable source of oil is probably one of the worst things anyone could ever do. The only thing that will force a capitalist society to move to a cleaner source of energy is if that energy is economically viable. This pushes that goal further away.

The only thing that will force a capitalist society to move to a cleaner source of energy is to tax unclean sources of energy. This doesn't affect that goal at all.



[ Parent ]
Don't forget CO, NO, SO, etc, etc. (5.00 / 2) (#78)
by levesque on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:26:35 PM EST

Smog is a cocktail that kills, and it's synergy with other toxic substances is definetly not negligible.

[ Parent ]
Cleaner burning fuels (none / 0) (#98)
by dipierro on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:34:22 PM EST

I'm not sure how you're going to get SO or NO from a hydrocarbon, but hey, I guess it's possible. CO is not very dangerous outdoors and in the volumes commonly produced.

[ Parent ]
SO2 NOx VOCs PM10 CO (none / 0) (#102)
by levesque on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:50:00 PM EST

Sorry, I didn't specify. You need a permit for emitting this kind of stuff.

[ Parent ]
SO2 NOx CO (none / 0) (#115)
by evanbd on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:18:34 PM EST

They come from unclean combustion processes. NOx mostly comes from nitrogen in the air getting combined with oxigen in the air by the high temperatures of combustion. This only happens in small quantities, but that's all it takes over time. SO2 comes from sulfur in the gas, usually. This process would help with that, possibly, depending on the quality of the oil coming out. THey say it does well, though, so I'll believe them absent other sources. CO usually comes from incomplete combustion in engines (eg hydrocarbon + O2 -> CO + H2O). Sometimes you also get hydrocarbons unburnt in the exhaust, but the catalytic converter takes care of most of those, along with most of the CO.

[ Parent ]
Lil'Lisa Slurry and Burns Omninet [nt] (2.00 / 4) (#36)
by Stavr0 on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 01:00:54 PM EST


- - -
Pax Americana : Oderint Dum Metuant
Curious. (2.50 / 4) (#46)
by tokugawa on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:22:09 PM EST

Search word: Oil.  Results: 12 instances in text.
Search word: Iraq. Results: 0 instances in text.

Huh?

grep isn't an AI =) (none / 0) (#194)
by WWWWolf on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 07:43:38 AM EST

The intro does reference to "Iraq Oil", but the author doesn't dare to use those exact words, so obviously you can't find them with a simple search. =)

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


[ Parent ]
yeah but... (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by transient0 on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 03:30:43 PM EST

> 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.

what kind of oil would it be? And would it be canniblism if you cooked with oil from your dead grandfather and then drank his water?

oohhh... shades of Dune...
---------
lysergically yours

I only see cost measures in dollars (1.00 / 1) (#53)
by HidingMyName on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:01:57 PM EST

The real question is how much energy does this method consume. If it uses more energy (excluding energy stored chemically in the raw materials) than it produces, then it won't be effective, since it is a net energy loss. Any measures on the efficiency of this process?

Read closer. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by NFW on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:21:59 PM EST

No, let me read it for you:

Thermal depolymerization, Appel says, has proved to be 85 percent energy efficient for complex feedstocks, such as turkey offal: "That means for every 100 Btus in the feedstock, we use only 15 Btus to run the process." He contends the efficiency is even better for relatively dry raw materials, such as plastics.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

In this factory.... (none / 0) (#154)
by pmc on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:42:16 AM EST

...we obey the laws of thermodynamics.

Something triggered the Bullshit detector when I read the Discover article, and it was this. They are heating the slurry (and reducing pressure) to evaporate the water in it. You cannot do that at 85% efficiency. I'd be charitable and put this down to editorial screwup, but it is a direct quote about Btus. Basically, having heat exchangers (which they have) precludes 85% efficiency (unless you are running very hot indeed).

The article says that for one ton of turkey slurry you get 6 2/3 barrels of oil. One Barrel of Oil is 159 Litres, so 6 2/3 barrels of oil gives 1060 litres. Given that the oil has the characteristics of somewhere between a light fuel oil and gasoline then specific gravity is about 0.9. Therefore the mass of oil produced is 954kg. The mass of one ton is 907kg. So they are getting more mass of material out than goes in, even neglecting the presence of water and minerals in the slurry.

Allowing for the waste materials then they are getting five litres of oil out for every one litre of "oil precursor" they put in.

It looks like a scam from here - they may have some process to extract oil from slurry, but at nothing like the efficiencies that they claim here.

[ Parent ]

Metric ton (none / 0) (#155)
by CtrlBR on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:37:49 PM EST

1000 kg.

Forget about that stupid imperial measure system. Even Brittons mostly forgot it.

If no-one thinks you're a freedom fighter than you're probably not a terrorist.
-- Gully Foyle

[ Parent ]
bullshit detection (none / 0) (#157)
by NFW on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:08:35 PM EST

Just for the record, these guys set off my bullshit detector as well, but not with anything quantifiable... just with unbridled optimism and phrases like "glorious oil." And this excerpt: "'The potential is unbelievable,' says Michael Roberts, a senior chemical engineer for the Gas Technology Institute, an energy research group." Not so bad by itself, but it's only a few paragraphs later where the author reveals that this "energy research group" is in fact a partner in the venture.

But, according to this search, the specific gravity of gasoline is 0.9, 0.69, or 0.74. (And that's just skimming the first page.)

0.9 sounds really high to me, since gasoline is substantially lighter than water. Something like 6 vs. 9 pounds per gallon, IIRC, so 0.7ish sounds much closer. Again google searching turns up a variety of figures, but they're all too different for a specific gravity of 0.9.

But then again... that ton of turkey sludge probably includes a lot of water, so your 'something from nothing' analysis still carries a lot of weight. (Pun intended.)

The market will decide...


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Specific Gravity (5.00 / 1) (#161)
by pmc on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:38:52 PM EST

What they claim they are producing is equivalent of number 2 heating oil, which is 0.82 - 0.95 specific gravity.

But lets play another game - PETE bottles. The molecular building block for this has a molecular weight of 192u, and comprises C = 120u, O = 64u and H = 8u. Alternatively the H bottles have a percentage mass composition of C/O/H of 62.5/33.3/4.2. Fuel oil has a C/O/H percentage ratio of 86/0/14.

Now, lets do the carbon balance. Out of 100 feedstock pounds there are produced 70 pounds of oil and 6 pounds of carbon (and 16 pounds of gas and 8 pounds of water - well get to them later). The oil is composed of 86% carbon, so that's 60 units of carbon in the oil. Add to the 6 pounds of carbon solids that gives 66 pounds of carbon out for 60 pounds of carbon going in. Also going in are 33 pounds of oxygen, which turns into 16 pounds of water (which contains about 14.2 pounds of oxygen). So we're missing about 19 lbs of oxygen - careless. Even if the gas is pure oxygen we're still short. Of course we burn the gas to give power (that's what the web site says), so assume it's methane (to try and not abuse the carbon balance any more). That's another 12 lbs of carbon required.

Ultimately, we put in 60 pounds of carbon, and get out somewhere between 66 and 78 lbs of carbon, lose 19 lbs of oxygen (and gain a whole load of hydrogen too).

There are so may other things wrong with this my head hurts thinking about them all. I could, for example, point out that PETE is, in layman's terms, partially burnt; it already has carbon oxygen bonds. The aim of a hydrocarbon is to turn carbon-hydrogen and carbon-carbon bonds into carbon oxygen bonds. What's is claimed to be happening is that they are taking the oxygen out of the molecule. Fine - but that takes energy. Where is the energy coming from? They claim it comes from the previous lot you've just unburned. Was that the law of the conservation of energy just being broken?

Bogus.

[ Parent ]

Energy (none / 0) (#183)
by Ken Arromdee on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 03:32:55 PM EST

They do use the gas from previous runs to power the process, but while the original product is partly burned, the gas ends up completely burned. So the step from waste to gas loses energy (since you're 'unburning' it), but the step where the gas is burned gains you more energy than you lost in the first step. That energy can indeed be used to power the process--essentially, you start with a lot of partly burned material, and end up with some less-burned material (oil) and some more burned-material (fully burned gas).

[ Parent ]
Doesn't Work Like That (none / 0) (#187)
by pmc on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 07:25:11 PM EST

You can't turn 100kg of PETE into 70kg of oil - there is not enough energy in it. Assuming 100% efficiency of all steps (completely ridiculous) you might hit 50% (based on how much energy you get out of each of them when you burn them to completelion - water and carbon dioxide). Realistically, you'd be lucky to hit 2% as the reaction chemistry is a nightmare - too may endothermic steps so all the equilibrium points are in exactly the wrong place.

Another little bit I noticed - the TDP (or whatever the acronym is) uses 600psi (or about 40 Bar) and 260C. Now, an analytical technique I used many years ago is called Supercritical Fluid Chromatography (SFC). The pressures and the temperatures at which you use water in SFC are much higher (371C and 221 Bar) yet, oddly, this TDP process that is touted here does not seem to occur.

More bogus than an imposter at a Halloween party in August.

[ Parent ]

Ahh (4.20 / 5) (#56)
by SilentNeo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:16:43 PM EST

Why This won't reduce imports of foreign oil by very much

I had a sudden bit of insight I wanted to share.

Where do you think the energy contained in the products of this contraption (assuming it works) actually came from? You may be shocked at the correct answer. Lets trace the chain back.

Ok : livestock parts and dead plant matter (paper, husks, ect). In addition, possible human and animal remains. These are the inputs to the machine. But where did their energy come from?

Plants, right. I assume you are now thinking most of the energy the plant absorbed came from the sun. Good guess, but mostly wrong. To get commercial agriculture to grow like it does : for every joule of energy the plant absorbs from the sun three joules have to be supplied to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer to make it grow. Yes, you could go organic but yields are of course much lower (or some organic farmers use manure from cows which were fed from grain grown using the standard methods).

That's right : this machine is not a convoluted way to get energy from the sun. Its a fossil fuel recycler, reclaiming a small amount of the energy that originally was stored in oil/coal/gas pumped from the ground, much of it foreign.

Assuming similar efficiency to the natural world, this process probably reclaims 10% of the energy the whole thing started with. This means that Exxon is probably not going out of business, and won't need to bribe or assinate anyone. The whole system will require nearly as many fossil fuels coming in as always to keep working.

Cite? (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:33:10 PM EST

To get commercial agriculture to grow like it does : for every joule of energy the plant absorbs from the sun three joules have to be supplied to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer to make it grow.

Sounds dismal indeed. I don't want to sound needlessly skeptical about a subject I know little about, but do you have any cites for this? If true, this would make bio-fuels like ethanol, gasahol, and bio-diesel quite pointless, no?

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
Yep (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by SilentNeo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:05:28 PM EST

Unfortunatly, this is the internet and even with google it took me a bit to phrase my request correctly. Here's a good article with the damning proof.

A tidbit : All the energy inputs for producing, processing, packaging, transporting, and home-preparing a one-kilogram can of corn total 6,560 kcal. Contrast that with the 825 kcal of food energy provided by the corn.

"bio-fuels like ethanol, gasahol, and bio-diesel quite pointless" That's exactly right. Ever wondered why there's so much opposition to these alternatives? Perhaps it isn't 'big oil'...perhaps its the fact that anyone with real knowledge about the processes realizes they usually consume more fossil fuels than they save.

[ Parent ]

Uh (4.83 / 6) (#72)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:45:52 PM EST

Well, that's interesting, and all, but the energy required for "producing, processing, packaging, transporting, and home-preparing" a can of corn - that is, a packaged food product - isn't really relevant to bio-fuel production, animal feed, or the re-processing of waste and leftovers, all of which can skip most of those steps.

Similarly, I'm not sure it's relevant how much "food energy" is in the resulting corn. The bio-diesel process, or this new garbage-to-oil process, may have a very different efficiency than a human body does.

Your cite points out that
The energy for production of a can of corn amounts to only a little more than 10 per cent of the total energy used to produce, process, and market it. Most of the total energy input of 2,785 kcal for processing is expended for the production of the steel can.
The paper goes on to add in the fuel required by the food-shopper to drive to the grocery store and back. Clearly, a lot of these energy requirements aren't applicable to crops grown for industrial uses.

Other parts of the paper point out that food production in the US is sometimes dramatically more energy intensive than necessary. Bread production in the US consumes nearly double the per-loaf energy required in the UK, and the difference is largely the energy-intensive US-style crop growth.

Thanks for the link. I'm not trying to shoot your point down, here, I'm just saying this paper doesn't back your point up much.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
It doesn't? (none / 0) (#76)
by SilentNeo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:19:22 PM EST

Even if the ratio is .8 to 1 (it takes 80% of the energy eventually gained from these fuels to grow the crops taking into account conversion losses (emphasis mine, there are LOTS of these losses to convert from the crop to fuel to transport, ect)) it wouldn't be practical. If you take out the cost of the can and production you still get a high ratio of fossil fuels used to grow the crops versus output.

Current projects use surplus crops to make the alchohols and biodiesel. That is, you are really just reclaiming fossil fuels wasted to grow crops that weren't really needed.

This is digressing from the whole point, anyway. My point stands that depolymerization may work and be profitable but cannot significantly reduce demand for fossile fuels.

[ Parent ]

Well (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:04:01 PM EST

Well, no, I was hoping to read more about the idea that fertilizer manufacture consumes three times more energy than the crops that result absorb from the sun. These numbers don't back that up.

This is digressing from the whole point, anyway. My point stands that depolymerization may work and be profitable but cannot significantly reduce demand for fossile fuels.

Well, I agree with you here; I'd also be surprised if we got enough oil out of it to make a dent in the price of ordinary fossil fuels.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
It's from WASTE products... (5.00 / 1) (#134)
by taiwanjohn on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:09:37 AM EST

You're missing the point here. No one is talking about growing crops specifically for depolymerization. All of that fertilizer and excess energy you're talking about is going to get used anyway to produce turkeys, canned corn, or whatever.

Currently, those kilotons of turkey guts get ground and dried (using still more energy) and mixed in with animal feed, increasing the risk of mad cow disease and other nastiness. Now we can convert the lot into valuable fuels and chemicals, extracting 85% of the energy.

As for your corn statistics, this is a red-herring argument over a pork-barrel project to prop up the farm-belt with another "market" for excess production. If ethanol were made from cellulose crops instead of food crops, the efficiency would be higher and the cost much lower.

In any case, that's irrelevant to the technology in queston, because they're ONLY talking about using WASTE products.

This is worth pursuing aggressively, if only to better handle some currently troublesome wastes, like dioxin, PCB, PVC, diapers, old computers and appliances... It is robust, scalable, and flexible, and handles mixed wastes with ease.

By the way, nobody ever said it would reduce demand for petroleum. The point is it will increase supply, at competitive production costs.

This technology WILL become ubiquitous in the coming years. Just you wait... ;-)

--jrd

[ Parent ]

Kind of aside from the point (5.00 / 2) (#63)
by Hatamoto on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:44:29 PM EST

I've been reading this site with great interest, not because it's a "new and exciting way of developing oil", but because it appears to be a fairly efficient way to extract more value from existing products and, more importantly, reduce or eliminate many of the waste products currently demolishing our environment. I think the ability to recycle high carbon-content human, industrial and consumer waste is a BIG win for the planet (ask anyone living next to a an old rubber tire stockpile)... just turn those old computers and tires into oil, water and minerals, and if efficient enough use the potential chemical energy in the materials being broken down to power the whole process. Slick. :D

Sure, it may not mean the end of OPEC or U.S. hegemony or terrorists/freedom fighters/cause fighters, but at least the planet will be cleaner while we're all getting bombed. Sounds good to me!

--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]

I said that (none / 0) (#82)
by SilentNeo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:36:00 PM EST

I said that, see the phrase "fossil fuel recycler". Yes, on a large enough scale some of these wastes could be removed with techniques like this. The whole point of the comment was to explain :

a. Where the energy is really coming from

b. Why 'big oil' isn't really threatened because even on a massive scale fossils fuels would still need to be shipped in. It's likely that if the project fails, it won't be because oil companies sabotaged it.

[ Parent ]

Yes, I see it now (none / 0) (#92)
by Hatamoto on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:55:23 PM EST

It's easy to fall into a 'gloss over' mode on k5 sometimes ;) mea culpa... As a canadian, I feel no immediate urgent threat to one of our major exports by this, either.

Hearing this sort of thing excites me with the possibilities... In it lies an enormous potential benefit to the planet as a whole and north america in particular in the sense of energy and resource reclaimation from waste. Certainly not a cure-all for what ails the planet, but a helluva lot better than what's going right now... and if there's a financial upside, maybe it'll even encourage the incorrigable US policy makers who seem to be quite intent on doing things the dirtiest and most inefficient way if it yields maximum profit in the short term.

--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]

Question (4.66 / 3) (#84)
by cr8dle2grave on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:09:47 PM EST

Why This won't reduce imports of foreign oil by very much

Perhaps I'm missing something blindingly obvious here, but if, as is claimed by the inventors:

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.

then I fail to see how this technology wouldn't significantly reduce dependence upon imported oil.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
You'd have to convert it *all* (none / 0) (#94)
by Hatamoto on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:25:50 PM EST

... and *all* is an awful lot. There'd be a shit-tonne of plants everywhere... and in the case of these plants, they may even rate the energy production by the shit-tonne :D

All this, of course, presumes that DEMANDS for oil will never increase, which is pretty unlikely. I'd feel it more likely that the amount of oil production increase by these reclamation plants would be entirely subsumed by increased future demand for oil (either as a fuel source, or as a production medium for plastics, etc).

Still, I'd love to see people try. In my opinion a process like this (a process of reclaiming unused energy from waste products that is pretty efficent and can be self-powering) is nothing but good for the world's ecology, even if it does have the ultimate effect of slowly crowbaring control of the world's economy away from the petroleum exporters with attendant shifts in power.

--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]

And those shit-ton plants deliver their goods. (5.00 / 2) (#103)
by ultimai on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:55:20 PM EST

If as an easy side benefit to your buisness, you could ship off waste products that you had to pay in the past to get rid of, and instead profit from it,  do you know how many buisness would pounce on such a deal?

[ Parent ]
We can account for that. (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by Wateshay on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:53:30 PM EST

According to the article, the process is 85% efficient. So, if we develop the equivelent of 4 billion barrels of oil, then we'd have to use up the equivelent of 600 million barrels to do it. So, that means that if we currently import 4.2 billion barrels, and can make 4 billion domestically using 600 million, then our import requirements would drop from 4.2 billion to 800 million. Of course various factors will keep it from dropping that much (we'll put more of our local oil production into reserves, and the subsequent drop in energy prices will lead to people using more energy) but it should still be significant.

"If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


[ Parent ]
Those numbers don't necessarily extend (none / 0) (#119)
by Hatamoto on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:02:14 AM EST

They specifically mentioned that level of energy efficiency for one type of material being processed (greasy ol' bird entrails, if I recall). Other materials to be recycled, such as PVCs and myriad non-biodegradable carbon bearing materials, may require more energy to break down and yield less immediately reusable byproducts... and while they do hint at this, there's no really solid numbers to base guesstimates off of. I'd love to find out more when the numbers do come up... how many BTUs expended to grind up and reprocess a thousand tires, say, vs. the amount of potential BTUs reclaimed as simple hydrocarbons in the form of liquid/gas fuels.

... and I'd venture to say that 4.2 billion barrels imported will have gone up substantially by the time these plants generate enough fuel to even account for 1% of that amount, especially in light of pax americana... An army marches on its stomache; a tanks' stomache is its gas tank.

--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]

Here's a thought.. (4.60 / 5) (#85)
by Kwil on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:12:22 PM EST

That's right : this machine is not a convoluted way to get energy from the sun. Its a fossil fuel recycler, reclaiming a small amount of the energy that originally was stored in oil/coal/gas pumped from the ground, much of it foreign.

It's not like we'd be growing crops specifically for stuffing into this machine to make oil. That would be, as you suggest, incredibly stupid.

The trick is that we're using waste products. We're using it to reclaim energy that we curren't don't. And we waste a lot. I mean a lot. I mean huge tonnages of it. In everything. Now, if we can recycle (as they suggest) 85% of that wasted energy, suddenly that puts a real hurt on the demand for new energy coming in.

Now, let's assume that what we waste in "convertable" materials accounts for about 20% of our energy requirements then 85% of that 20% wastage is 17%.  That's a drop in energy demands by 17%.

No, this will not kill the oil industry as whole, but 17% of 4.2 billion barrels/year is 714 million barrels/year. At $15/barrel, you're looking at over 10 billion dollars taken away from the oil industry over the course of a single year.

And you say this won't hurt very much?

Of course, if our percentage of convertable materials is a higher percentage of our energy requirements, then this dollar amount goes up.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#137)
by SilentNeo on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:22:36 AM EST

And you say this won't hurt very much?

Even if your estimate is correct (I don't : as I said, I estimate efficiencies are more on the order on 10% for the whole because that's about what nature does), where do you think the money for these plants is going to come from? That's right, the rich getting richer. If this process actually works, it would make perfect sense for big oil to spend some of their profits building gigantic depolymer plants, since the equipment is identical to what is found in a refinery.

Just pointing out a fact of life

[ Parent ]

And why would that be bad? (none / 0) (#144)
by Chakotay on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 08:55:16 AM EST

I only see it as extremely positive that there is an effective, and economically viable way to get rid of waste products that would otherwise only sit there and cause pollution. For the result (effective reuse of waste products, and reclamation of otherwise wasted energy) it doesn't matter at all who built the plant...

<disclaimer> Ofcourse, working for TotalFinaElf, my opinion may be biased. But my opinion is my own, and may not at all correspond with the opinion of TotalFinaElf... </disclaimer>

--
Linux like wigwam. No windows, no gates, Apache inside.

[ Parent ]

Ethanol's a net winner. (5.00 / 3) (#91)
by bigdavex on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:42:55 PM EST

I assume you are now thinking most of the energy the plant absorbed came from the sun. Good guess, but mostly wrong. To get commercial agriculture to grow like it does : for every joule of energy the plant absorbs from the sun three joules have to be supplied to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer to make it grow.
This is incorrect. Agriculture, even using anhydrous ammonia or nitrates, captures more energy that it consumes. Here's an excerpt from a report given by a Dr. Michael S. Graboski for the National Corn Growers Association:
The total fossil energy input to corn accounts for about one-third of the total fossil energy in ethanol. In corn agriculture, fertilizers, particularly nitrogen, account for more than 40% of the total energy input per acre of corn harvested.


[ Parent ]
working link (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by bigdavex on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:32:00 PM EST

report

[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#106)
by mont4g on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 09:45:39 PM EST

You could just grow nitrogen-fixing crops like legumes.  Nitrogen fertilizer is not an issue then.  Minerals?  Only for the first round -- this process reclaims the minerals as fertilizers from the waste products, letting you add it back.

[ Parent ]
Two points (5.00 / 1) (#120)
by godix on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:09:32 AM EST

for every joule of energy the plant absorbs from the sun three joules have to be supplied to make ammonium nitrate fertilizer to make it grow

Prove it.

you could go organic but yields are of course much lower

Who cares? If we grew plants specifically for turning into oil we wouldn't need high yields. We wouldn't need expensive fertilizers to boost a certain type of plant. We wouldn't need to spend tons of energy pumping water around and spraying it on those plants. We wouldn't need pesticides, insecticides, or any other type of *ides. Just set aside some land and occasionally go mow down whatever grew wild on it. Total energy expended: Fuel for a lawn mower and a truck to haul the plants away. There is a vast difference in energy required between farming for a specific type of food plant and just letting whatever grows wild do so.

this machine is not a convoluted way to get energy from the sun.

Yes it is. You're making the mistake of assuming farming for raw material would be done exactly the same as farming for food. Farming for material is far off in the future though. It'll be a long time before we have enough machines to deal with industrial waste much less having to set aside acreage to grow plants specifically for this. This process would actually result in a positive energy gain assuming their 85% number is correct.

Of course, I'm semi-convinced the entire thing is about as realistic as cold fusion was. A google search does find other articles about this process, but for how good it sounds it has an astounding lack of press.


"This is a great day for France!"
- Richard Nixon at Charles De Gaulle's funeral
[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 0) (#138)
by SilentNeo on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:28:02 AM EST

Yes, if the crop were grown with the fuel cost for each step of the process kept in mind, you might be able to get more energy than you started with. However, 'farming for fuel', probably will never become very useful no matter how advanced technology becomes. This is because you would get more energy with the same land area tapping the sun directly (mirror farms or photovoltaics) as plants are not really that efficient. Doing it the way you suggest could gobble up all available farming area of the united states and probably still not provide as much energy as we are getting currently for fossil fuels. This is because oil/coal/gas was accumulated over millions of years, it is not reasonable to expect to match that process on an annual basis.

[ Parent ]
plant plants (none / 0) (#147)
by schrotie on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:56:16 AM EST

plants are not really that efficient
Cough. As compared to what? The photosysnthethic process performs close to the physical optimum. We won't ever be devising anything significantly more efficient. Photosynthesis is orders apart from our pathetic technologies. Whole plants are another matter of course. They have to have investments in static elements, reproduction, maintanance and self defense. Again we have no technology even remotely comparable. Our technology is rather pathetic when compared to nature's. Or do you know of any device, wheighing a couple of milligrams that you can drop onto the soil that'll set up a self maintaining photosynthesis plant for no cost but what Gaya provides?

Obviously you have to pick the right plants for getting the maximum chemically bound energy out of the sunlight. Reed is pretty good at that. Hemp is also not bad plus it's far better at keeping pests at bay. The trouble with biological energy sources is that we have to first transform the chemical energy into some other form of chemical energy using the lossy processes our puny technology provides and then converting that chemical energy into what we need (e.g. heat, light or kinetic energy i.e. propulsion). These later transformations are often even less efficient than the first.

The 85% efficiency claimed in the article for doing the first transformation sounds very good ... indeed too good to be true, but then, who knows.

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

Kudzu Man! Kudzu! (none / 0) (#169)
by OldCoder on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:08:53 PM EST

No inputs except sunshine! It's a nitrogen fixing (adds fertilizer to the soil) weed that grows all over the southern US and is taking over pine forests and vacant lots. Put on the wrong herbicide and it grows even better! See The Amazing Story of Kudzu. See also this page.

Kudzu is quite edible and not yet completely understood. Apparently the best way to get rid of it is overgrazing. These thinkers have been looking for a way to utilize the stuff.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

heh (4.40 / 5) (#62)
by Work on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:33:13 PM EST

Start being suspicious when gas stations of brand 'Soylent' begin appearing.

Now that we have Synthetic Fossil Fuels... (4.60 / 10) (#64)
by randyk on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 04:50:02 PM EST

Should we go with Doctrine: Air Power or Mind/Machine Interface?

__


--
I love diaries like this. It's like a man who comes home to a burning house and asks the smoldering remains of his wife what he's missed. - rmg
too much HoI for you [n/t] (none / 0) (#69)
by TurboThy on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:13:54 PM EST


__
'Someone will sig this comment. They will. I know it.' [Egil Skallagrimson]
[ Parent ]
SMAC! (5.00 / 2) (#133)
by kerinsky on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:42:26 AM EST

Huh?  Doctrine Air Power is a prereq for Mind/Machine Interface.  If it wasn't this'd be a no-brainer. MMI if you think you can get the Cyborg Factory first, otherwise develop Air Power and just take it from whoever does.  If you're a peacenik type you'd be going for Environmental Economics about then instead.

-=-
Aconclusionissimplytheplacewhereyougottiredofthinking.
[ Parent ]
My bad... (none / 0) (#204)
by randyk on Thu May 01, 2003 at 08:26:09 PM EST

I was thinking Neural Grafting, which is a prereq for MMI.

Gotta have MMI... Copters and The Cloudbase Academy if you're playing Alien Crossfire.

"In three dimensions, I find freedom."

__


--
I love diaries like this. It's like a man who comes home to a burning house and asks the smoldering remains of his wife what he's missed. - rmg
[ Parent ]
Reminds me of the matrix... (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by dipierro on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:04:49 PM EST

"Combined with a form of fusion the machines had found all the energy they would ever need."

Now all we need is the form of fusion...



some form of fusion (4.00 / 3) (#95)
by anon868 on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:27:32 PM EST

hint: Go outside, and look up.
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]
the moon is a source of fusion?! :-) (n/t) (5.00 / 1) (#159)
by fishling on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:27:31 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Wait twelve hours, then look up again ;-) (n/t) (5.00 / 1) (#167)
by anon868 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:30:26 PM EST

nothing to see here, move along.
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]
Hopefully... (none / 0) (#105)
by Mr. Piccolo on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 09:41:03 PM EST

it won't involve a stupid dance OR stupid earrings!

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


[ Parent ]
I'm a little concerned. (2.50 / 4) (#70)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 05:35:24 PM EST

I find little relief in the "post-mortem" part. Anything that involves biological matter converted to a source of wealth is an excellent impetus to kill someone for it. While it may not be economical to do so for the time being, I fear that with technology developing in such directions, this is where it's going to lead.

If you think that's a nutty conspiracy theory, well, the only thing I've got to say to you is, just wait. Years ago when organ transplants were the bleeding edge, people would've thought that an underground economy in human organs is some kind of loony fantasy too. But guess what...

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

"If you think that's a nutty.. ." (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by cryon on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:04:55 PM EST

Yes, I do.
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]
Well, that's fine. (none / 0) (#77)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:25:17 PM EST

But I think there have been enough technological developments already to provide a good lesson in why you're wrong.

I'm not intimating that there will be a systematic, mafia-style killing of people for energy - that's stupid and kind of purpose-defeating. I just think it's one tiny step in a dangerous direction of technological development, where such questions should be carefully considered. Take your pick from any number of possibilities that are so far regarded as science fiction, but may become very relevant with further R&D.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Yes, you are totally right. (5.00 / 2) (#80)
by jw32767 on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:28:42 PM EST

The 45 pounds of combustible material that they extract from that man will certainly yield far more energy than it cost to care for him while he grew.  I'm sure that there will be massive human factories a la the Matrix to take advantage of this new exciting opportunity.

--
Krups, not only can they shell Paris from the Alsace, they make good coffee. - georgeha

These views are my own and may or may not reflect the views of my employer.
[ Parent ]
No, clown. (1.00 / 1) (#81)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:31:00 PM EST

I didn't say it was economical now. But if the process could be made a few dozen times more efficient, perhaps it would be a convenient way to 'dispose' of someone.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I don't think it can be made much more efficient. (none / 0) (#86)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:15:50 PM EST

You can only get so much oil out of a man and then there's none left no matter what your efficiency.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

See response to sibling comment. [n/t] (none / 0) (#97)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:32:18 PM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Dumbass! (5.00 / 1) (#87)
by bjlhct on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:18:04 PM EST

Alright, the process is 85% efficient. Let's make it a dozen times as efficient and get more matter and energy than we put in it! Simple as pie! Ever heard as thermodymamics?

And corn, pound for pound, will always be cheaper than human.

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]

What are you talking about? (1.00 / 1) (#96)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:31:19 PM EST

I wasn't referring to it putting out more oil than can be physically contained in the matter of a human being, moron. It would have to be concomitant with the greater efficiency of processes that consume oil, as well as an all-around technological advancement in many spheres from oil production to oil utilisation. Possibly even beyond oil. The point here is to look at the possibilities inherent in the notion of converting biomatter to some kind of fuel or other energy source, not cower in fear from the technology described in this article.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

A bit late (none / 0) (#100)
by sholden on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:49:28 PM EST

It will always be cheaper to breed rabbits than humans for such a purpose.

We have been using biomatter for energy since the discovery of fire. Beginning to look at the 'possibilities' puts you only only half a billion years behind the rest of us.

--
The world's dullest web page


[ Parent ]
Corn (none / 0) (#122)
by marx on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:43:18 AM EST

And corn, pound for pound, will always be cheaper than human.
Which is why they're using corn for this process. Er.. no, they're using turkeys?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Because: (none / 0) (#129)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:23:04 AM EST

Corn can be sold to people. Leftover turkey parts are waste. No one's having the idea of growing corn, turkeys, or people just to feed into this. It's a waste reclamation project.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

Yes (5.00 / 1) (#132)
by marx on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:41:18 AM EST

I don't think anyone was suggesting to grow humans specifically for this either. However, if you have a lot of people who don't or can't work, or are otherwise just a burden to the economy, why not turn them into something useful? It would be waste reclamation of human capital.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

I suppose (none / 0) (#143)
by Greyshade on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:31:12 AM EST

but first you would have buy into the notion that a human is some form of 'capital'.

[ Parent ]
Easy enough to do. [n/t] (none / 0) (#177)
by valeko on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:22:39 PM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Capital (none / 0) (#203)
by ToneHog on Thu May 01, 2003 at 05:07:36 PM EST

Have a SSC? Then you are.
Breeze,
TH
[ Parent ]
Sure beats (none / 0) (#168)
by bjlhct on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:58:04 PM EST

sending them away on a giant spaceship, huh? But that makes it harder to fool them. You think you could convince them it's a teleporter?

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
[ Parent ]
They Say... (5.00 / 2) (#113)
by Lagged2Death on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:52:20 PM EST

That a sty full of hungry pigs will effectively "dispose" of a body quickly and thoroughly. This is a waste-reprocessing technology that's been around a long time. All in all, I think you've got no more to fear from polymerization than you do from pigs.

Starfish automatically creates colorful abstract art for your PC desktop!
[ Parent ]
It's about as likely (5.00 / 2) (#90)
by Eater on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 07:39:59 PM EST

...as killing people for food. Organs are a different issue: a human being can't accept an organ from a cow, so it has to come from another person.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
Economics dictates no. (none / 0) (#101)
by ultimai on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:49:29 PM EST

Humans are pretty low for a good source of conversion.  Heck, it would be 10 times easier just to grow some plants and turn it into oil for various reasons. (Practical and social).

So by looking at the bad logic of the statement, I guess your a troll.

[ Parent ]

No, it wouldn't be economical at this point. (none / 0) (#110)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:26:43 PM EST

But perhaps turning live biological matter into another kind of more efficient fuel or other useful substance will be an issue in the future. That's where I'm going with this, and no, it is most definitely not a troll. I wish the organ trade was a troll too.

It evokes all kinds of sick images of a mass-murder.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Look at your own arguments (none / 0) (#131)
by ultimai on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:33:56 AM EST

and think.  They are, well, not well formed.  Your statements disprove your own intentions.  

Economics state, people for food = bad idea.  Same vein as people as car fuel = bad idea.  Look at eaters comment:

"That is as like as killing people for food. Organs are a different issue: a human being can't accept an organ from a cow, so it has to come from another person."

Why havent you replied to this one?  Hrm?

[ Parent ]

Because... (none / 0) (#142)
by valeko on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 06:57:08 AM EST

The reply would be the same as the one in this thread: No, not now, but maybe in the future.

People as food is uneconomical because of the relatively low amounts of food to be gained from them. Perhaps if something more usable could be gained from them...

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

No, that's not why. (none / 0) (#150)
by Souhait on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:44:33 AM EST

People are not used as food because it is not acceptable in modern culture, and because other animals do the job just as easily. Why would we suddenly start mass-murdering people to convert them to fuel if animals do the job just as easily?

[ Parent ]
Plants (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by ultimai on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:08:46 PM EST

I'm not going to bother arguing with you.  If you would think about it, you wouldn't of event of made your first post.  Either that or your deluded because someone close to you was organ harvested.

[ Parent ]
hey stupid (2.33 / 3) (#139)
by RJNFC on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:35:25 AM EST

Organ theft is a myth. It's not real.

[ Parent ]
On a similar note... (none / 0) (#151)
by Souhait on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:48:18 AM EST

People are now starting to burn their neighbors in their fire place instead of using the more traditional yet less economical gas/electric heaters in their homes. Some say this change was brought about by an ultra-efficient fireplace, making your neighbor a cheaper alternative to natural gas.

[ Parent ]
KEEP YOUR HANDS OFFA THE TURKEYS, DAMMIT! (1.25 / 4) (#74)
by cryon on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:01:48 PM EST

CAN'T WE HAVE JUST ONE ANIMAL AT LEAST THAT IS SAFE FROM OUR GREEDY OIL-GUZZLING, ENERGY-HUNGRY DEPREDATIONS!!?!!! --TOO-MA-RICK
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

Another important consideration. (3.00 / 1) (#79)
by valeko on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:27:41 PM EST

Another important issue to consider is what the impact of such technology (notice I said such technology, not this technology) might be on the ecosystem, and whether it may stimulate hunting practises.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

Doh! (2.00 / 3) (#83)
by HidingMyName on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 06:51:13 PM EST

I'm sorry, I should not have overlooked that.

A Haiku... (3.75 / 4) (#93)
by Hatamoto on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 08:04:33 PM EST

Turning poop to gas...
We may yet gauge milage
in "Logs Per Gallon".


--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
Not haiku. (none / 0) (#189)
by vectro on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:36:22 PM EST

This is senryu.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Another haiku (none / 0) (#197)
by Hatamoto on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 04:52:15 AM EST

The nature of one
who comments on kuro5hin
tends to be 'pedant'.


--
"Innocence is no defense." - Federal District Judge William H. Yohn (People v. Mumia Abu-Jamal)
[ Parent ]
No seasonal reference (none / 0) (#199)
by rusty on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 10:16:03 AM EST

:-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Trolls: Future Oil. (3.00 / 2) (#104)
by bigbtommy on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 09:12:43 PM EST

Well, why not?
Something to think about...
-- bbCity.co.uk - When I see kids, I speed up
Just when hydrogen was looking good. (3.66 / 3) (#108)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 09:48:54 PM EST

Too bad. Assuming this is for-real, it can be taken to mean that we'll still be breathing smog.

As technologically awesome as this kind of thing is, it really blows. I was looking forward to a hydrogen future. You know, waste you can drink. Now you get waste you can process and then breathe and get cancer from. Guh.

farq will not be coming back

It's a APRIL FOOLS joke (1.50 / 6) (#112)
by ksiew on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 10:48:45 PM EST

It's a APRIL FOOLS joke

Your proof, please? n/t (none / 0) (#185)
by slur on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:14:04 PM EST



|
| slur was here
|

[ Parent ]
I guess... (4.33 / 3) (#116)
by HappyCycling on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:21:30 PM EST

Hobos will have to give blood to Exxon rather than the local plasma clinic.
wIIRtoco
Confirmed - It was an April Fools Joke. (1.00 / 9) (#118)
by Keeteel on Thu Apr 24, 2003 at 11:53:41 PM EST

Fox briefly mentioned it on air this evening around 5:00 pm PST as example of how far liberals are willing to go through their lack of judgement.

The jokes over folks, we've been had.

Doesn't add up. (5.00 / 3) (#123)
by Kwil on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:49:29 AM EST

..if it is just an April Fools joke, they've put a sh'load of work into it.

Working to confirm your point is that none of the companies they list as partners have any reference to CWT on their websites. However, I'm not sure how common it is for companies to list smaller firms that they may have some investment in.

On the other side is that their press contact is a professional marketing firm. I'm not sure whether this works for or against the idea of it being a hoax. The firm does list CWT's release among it's client's press releases.  Would a hoaxter (group) pay a marketing firm to do this?

Beyond that, they are mentioned as one of the companies in the portfolio of this company:
http://www.gri.org/webroot/app/xn/xd.aspx?it=enweb&xd=5resultsportfoliocos.x ml#cw

Now if you'll note, that this means they must have built an entire extra website, which only has a very small mention of CWT. A lot of effort for hoaksters.

Also, they are mentioned as a non real-estate affiliate company under the direction of David Katz at Sterling Equities. Strangely though, they list a Saul Katz on the Board of directors, not David.

The final bit of proof for me, however, is that they're mentioned on the California Energy Commission site at this address: http://www.energy.ca.gov/pier/indust/descriptions/100_98_003_3.html

So if anybody is pulling a hoax here, it's either you or whoever you got it from that it was a hoax.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
LOL Fox "News" (none / 0) (#126)
by melior on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:04:17 AM EST

Got a credible source for us?

- That's OK, I wasn't really using all of my Constitutional rights anyway...
[ Parent ]

Prove it. (5.00 / 2) (#127)
by opendna on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:08:01 AM EST

This link from the American Plastics Council suggests you're wrong and that Fox is lying... again.

Liberals may be idealistic, but at least they remember how Patrick Buchannan and Oliver North became household names.



[ Parent ]

Fox and the word "liberals" (none / 0) (#184)
by slur on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:12:43 PM EST

Well since Fox has no political agenda they must be providing a balanced and fair assessment of the story.

Come on, how can you seriously take anything Fox says at face value when they've show again and again that they're just pandering to the ingrained mean-spiritedness of self-righteous, xenophobic, paranoid, patriotic, nationalistic conservative types?

When someone declares that "Fox News is my window on the world" I have to wonder if there's any heart in their oft-beaten chest.


|
| slur was here
|

[ Parent ]

Vegetarians (4.60 / 5) (#121)
by inerte on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:22:31 AM EST

Would they drive a blood-powered car?

--
Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

No, they will only use bio-fuel from (none / 0) (#128)
by michaelp on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:15:15 AM EST

organic, non-GM veggie waste sources, of course you heathen!

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

[ Parent ]
Hah (4.60 / 5) (#130)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:25:36 AM EST

I think it will be hilarious when PETA-style vegans can't buy gas anymore.

Tim
"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."
[ Parent ]

umm... (none / 0) (#182)
by delusion on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 02:32:56 PM EST

Vegans ride bikes or public transportation. D'uh

[ Parent ]
Great minds think alike. (4.00 / 2) (#124)
by melior on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:57:15 AM EST

My blog entry from April 13th:

Yet Another Modest Proposal

A new type of bio-reactor converts turkey offal into light sweet oil, diesel fuel and gasoline, fatty acids and carbon black, with no harmful byproducts. A scaled up pilot plant is currently being built across the parking lot from a Butterball factory.

(The process, called thermal depolymerization, also works on ground-up appliances, plastics, tires, and medical waste. Good in-depth article on the subject in this May's Discover, but unfortunately it's not online.)

Which brings me to my latest modest proposal:

What to do with the thousands of human corpses and body parts left in the wake of Bush's Oil War II?

Make more oil.

Certainly this seems more appropriate in many ways than the current solution -- they're being thrown into ditches, with no ceremony, and covered over using backhoes.

- Melior

- That's OK, I wasn't really using all of my Constitutional rights anyway...

maybe not a hoax (4.50 / 2) (#125)
by cronian on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:57:49 AM EST

How is it an April fools joke? The article is from the May, and there have been other articles about the company which weren't from April 1. According to Senate Hearings, James Wooseley, former CIA director, is also a member of the board.Some other articles are here and here. Besides, I found a press release from them a couple of years ago. However, Slashdot apparently posted the story on April 1st although many of the comments say it is legit. However, the Discover article saying the process is economical wasn't on the internet at that time. Besides, stories about dead animals make it look more like a hoax.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
whatever it is (2.00 / 3) (#136)
by fhotg on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:21:18 AM EST

there is likely no "science behind it", as one article puts it. Neither "thermal polymerization" nor "Paul Baskis", supposedly the main researcher of this turns up any relevant finds in web of science.

I am willing to bet my last can of beer that this is not true, not a fun-hoax, but an investment-fraud. Maybe in concert with an environmental crime scheme.

somewhat confusing (3.00 / 1) (#165)
by mcherm on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 04:34:17 PM EST

The article you linked to does NOT claim that there is no science behind it (as I thought you ment on my first read), but gives the same information (written from the same press release, I'm sure). Nevertheless, you may well be right that about Paul Baskis lacking scientific credibility... I'm simply not sure.

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]
crystal clear (4.00 / 1) (#196)
by fhotg on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 12:26:02 PM EST

The article claims there _is science behind it. I say there isn't. My quotation marks are placed purposefully.

The "information" given is basically: This is science (and therfore true). It's apparently not published therfore not peer reviewed and therefore not science in my book.

It's patented though. But we all know that this isn't an indicator for functioning.

[ Parent ]

Too good to be true (3.80 / 5) (#140)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:38:54 AM EST

Most things that look too good to be true are. But in this case there are several things that turn on my BS detectors:
  1. It just happens to produce fuel oil that is "almost chemically indistinguishable" from fuel you can buy by the lorry load from many suppliers. As some James Klass put it, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo".
  2. The chemistry doesn't look particularly complicated. "Thermal depolymerisation" is jargon for heating stuff up to break it down into its elements. If its this easy, why hasn't it been done before? If people had been trying to do it for a while but it was only now looking economic then I'd be a lot less skeptical.
  3. Exagerrated and irrelevant claims are being made. A lot of big toxic waste problems are from elements Disposing of anthrax spoors is a non-problem. Meanwhile a lot of toxic wastes will either be untouched by any chemical process (e.g. mercury and arsenic) or are sufficiently stable to pass through this kind of heating (e.g. dioxin).
  4. It may be "peer reviewable", but have any peers actually reviewed it? If so, what did they say?

Of course none of this is conclusive, and if this system is for real then its going to be pretty revolutionary. But I'd be very very nervous about putting money into this scheme.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

The oil companies (4.50 / 2) (#141)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 05:54:26 AM EST

I see that the most popular poll option at the moment is that the oil companies will bury this technology. I disagree. I think they will license it (assuming its for real, of course).

The oil companies value is in processing crude into usable fuels and other oils, and then distributing those oils to consumers. Seen from this point of view, organic wastes are just another form of "crude oil" that the oil companies can process, distribute and sell. And the best part is, they don't need expensive and risky prospecting and drilling operations to find the stuff.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Good point (none / 0) (#202)
by Bwah on Wed Apr 30, 2003 at 12:47:00 AM EST

The oil industry already has the facilities for dealing with this. Granted they will need mods, but I would guess that it would be much easier to convert an existing refinery than to build a full scale plant from scratch.

--
To redesign an infinite ensemble of universes: what terrible responsibility, what arrogance ... It sounds just like the type of thing your average Homo sap would do for a dare. -- Stephen Baxter
[ Parent ]

there is better way to get energy (none / 0) (#146)
by svSHiFT on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:42:46 AM EST

The described technology may be usefull for consuming organic waste, but Animal biological mass grows much slower, than, for example, vegitative or bacterial mass -- that is why, i believe, the future belongs to these methods of prodicing energy. Possible product of processing vegetative mass can be methane or alcohol -- fuel of the future ! But so far the oil is a valuable raw material for chemical industry -- i believe that is where this technology will be claimed for most of all in not-so-far distant future.

the other point: (none / 0) (#149)
by tid242 on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:42:20 AM EST

The described technology may be usefull for consuming organic waste, but Animal biological mass grows much slower, than, for example, vegitative or bacterial mass -- that is why, i believe, the future belongs to these methods of prodicing energy. Possible product of processing vegetative mass can be methane or alcohol -- fuel of the future ! But so far the oil is a valuable raw material for chemical industry -- i believe that is where this technology will be claimed for most of all in not-so-far distant future.

Yea, but they're not growing animals for the purposes of throwing them kicking and screaming into an oil-creating mulcher (such would be a huge waste of resources because, as you point out, animals don't spontaneously generate fully grown), the huge success of this idea is the fact that it will run on animal waste, ever wondered how much waste comes from a 1o,ooo head pig farm?-well, visit the sewage treatment plant for a 1o,ooo person city sometime :)

But you're correct in assuming that as consumption rises the gap will need to be filled with other organic products... One of the most interesting ideas would be to use this process to turn conventional fossil fuels into cleaner substances, such as coal...

What i failed to gather however, (tell me to RTFM if you'd like) is where the toxic impurities will end up, in any source there will be lots of toxins in trace amounts: heavy metals, bioaccumulative chemicals, etc, etc. If we're talking about facilities that process millions of barrels per year this amounts to huge amounts of 'trace' toxins going somewhere. i would assume much of them would perhaps stay in the finished products.

Also, it seems to me that the problem of CO2 emissions is also not addressed, although other advantages probably merit use regardless...

-tid242


information wants free beer.
[ Parent ]

Exactly (none / 0) (#152)
by Eccles on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:48:35 AM EST

This is a handy disposal technique if it works, not the future of the oil industry. The entire U.S. biomass crop would hardly provide enough energy for all the cars driven, so taking the leftovers from the inefficient plant->animal conversion of that energy wouldn't make for a major fuel source.

[ Parent ]
Not just organic (none / 0) (#153)
by rmorris on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 11:06:13 AM EST

The described technology may be usefull for consuming organic waste, but Animal biological mass grows much slower, than, for example, vegitative or bacterial mass

The process, as described in the article, was not limited to "organic waste". It specifically mentions the process being able to convert bags of ground-up appliances, and that plastics yield copious amounts of oil when put through the process.



[ Parent ]
Willow (4.00 / 1) (#148)
by Paul Johnson on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 10:19:01 AM EST

Assuming for the moment that this thing really is true...

Check out this page on growing coppiced willow for energy. It says that one hectare (10,000 m^2, or 2.47 acres) will produce willow with energy equivalent to 5,000 litres of oil (about 31.4 barrels). Assuming 40% of that yield is taken by growing and converting the stuff, that leaves about 19 barrels per hectare per year. In 1999 world demand was 75 Mbarrels per day, or 27.4G barrels. This would therefore need around 1.4G hectares of Willow to replace oil use at 1999 levels. This is also the amount of land currently being cultivated for crops in general. Of course food agriculture produces a fair amount of organic waste product of various forms, such as plant stems, that is currently only fit to be burned on site. But I'm not at all sure that it would be economic to collect and transport it, even for 80% of its energy.

Another thought is that willow is being proposed for temperate climates. Tropical climates might well support plants with higher yields (bamboo?). But that would probably mean saying goodbye to even more rainforest.

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.

Willows are thirsty (none / 0) (#158)
by cestmoi on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 01:09:41 PM EST

Years ago, we used to raise cattle. When we would hit a drought, we'd cut the willow trees down. Reason being they sucked an awful lot of water. So much so that a willow-lined creekbed which was dry would flow again after we cut the willows down. Before any one gets too riled up, the willows would grow back after the drought.

Point being that water tends to be the limiting factor in a lot of situations. Maybe on the East coast you have more water than you can use but that certainly isn't the case out here - we're fighting over what little is left. Hard to imagine any getting allocated to growing oil because you'd have to take it from some farmer who is already worried about how little he has.

[ Parent ]

reuse water (none / 0) (#162)
by cronian on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:00:43 PM EST

Supposedly, the process produces lots of sterile water along with the oil. So it wouldn't be very hard to reuse a lot of the water if the process actually works.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
But.. (none / 0) (#198)
by ajduk on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 05:52:29 AM EST

Only about 1% of the water used by a plant is retained in tissue, cellulose, etc; the rest is evaporated.  Especially with water-hungry species.

[ Parent ]
Kudzu! (none / 0) (#172)
by OldCoder on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 07:52:26 PM EST

See this comment.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]
Amazing if true. (4.00 / 1) (#156)
by RofGilead on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 12:39:41 PM EST

Someone below posted that this was an April Fools Day Joke, but it does not appear to be so.  I did some googling on thermal depolymerization, and found some links.  Now, I'm a biochemist, but I don't have much in the way of polymer chemistry (other than polypeptides), so I can't make any statements based on experience.

 One clue on whether or not it is realistic would be calculating how much oil is possible to receive from a human.  This quote is interesting:
"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".  Human bodies are mostly water, estimates I've found are between 50-80% by weight, and their #given would be about 70% by weight.  Carbon is about 1/10th the number of atoms of the human body, and carbon, oxygen and hydrogen make up 99% of the atoms of the human body.  .... I don't have a trusty calculator, but if all that carbon was converted to hydrocarbon chains, maybe it is possible to have such a high yield.  It'd be intersting to learn more about the process.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon

Think about it... (none / 0) (#160)
by Mysticalfruit on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 02:26:26 PM EST

If this isn't a joke, do you really think BP likes having to deal with OPEC? Considering that they changed their name to "Beyond Petroleum" I want the Hydrogen revolution to come, but it's expesive to extract hydrogen from water. Take all this waste and rip the hydrogen out of it...

I'm a little confused as to wether this a a joke.. (none / 0) (#163)
by gmol on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:35:13 PM EST

I know thermal depolymerization is real, and maybe someone has figured out an efficient process...

But it sure reads like a joke,

They have successfully converted everything from ground up computers, tires, raw sewage, plastics, wood and metal into water, oil, gas and fertilizer. Other products such as industrial acids, used for everything from printer ink to PVC piping can be made with this process. The products going in dictate what chemicals come out.

The excess water from the material is clean enough to pour directly into the storm drain, and they don't even need an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) permit to run the plant. No product that they have yet put into the intake produces toxic extract, despite the product being toxic to begin with.

It looks like there are metals in there, they surely get into the water (unless I guess if they all form insoluble oxides) on cooking....

How can you thermally depolymerize metal alloys anyway?

Metal processing (4.00 / 1) (#164)
by epepke on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 03:40:15 PM EST

Ground-up computers are generally put in a furnace without oxygen to get the metals out first. I knew someone who just went around the country bidding on junk mainframes to extract the gold. Probably some remain after this, but probably not too much.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Insane Optimism Goggles TM (5.00 / 1) (#176)
by BrainFaucet on Fri Apr 25, 2003 at 09:40:48 PM EST

This could be just the thing to save US farmers. According to the article there is no reason plants can't be run through the process. Another interesting note is that plastics can be run through as well. Most plastics are extremely difficult to recycle. I know in my area only PETE and HDPE are recycled. It also says materials with heavy metals can be broken down as well. This is excellent news. This could solve the energy and landfill issues currently threatening the US and I'm assuming much of the rest of the world.

Now I'm going to toss on my Insane Optimism GogglesTM and tell you what I see...

Hopefully hydrogen cars (as well as hydrogen anything that requires stored power) will be popular within the next few decades (there are many more advantages than the lack of polluting exhaust) The problem with hydrogen is it takes energy to break hydrogen from whatever it's bound to. Thanks to that handy dandy 2nd law of thermodynamics we can't use hydrogen power to do this... d'oh!

Well, oil power plants produce a very reliable stream of power to steal these hydrogen atoms from water (or whatever), but they pollute the air like a relatively large number of relatively large fellows who just had a relatively large number of Taco Hell bean burritos. Lots of smog spewing from these suckers. Fortunately since power plants can be very large facilities, very large and extremely complex filtering systems can be tacked onto the power generation exhaust system. I don't know if it'd be possible to trap all of the pollutants from the exhaust, but hey... I'm wearing these goggles, so it sure as hell looks like we can! Unfortunately these filtering systems would create a bunch of used filter waste and trapped exhaust pollutants. What do we do with this?

I haven't researched the CO2 filtering process at all, however according to this article one can toss almost anything into this machine and it'll break it all up. Tossing said filter/exhaust waste would (remember I'm looking through my Insane Optimism GogglesTM) give us tame minerals, water and oil and a some other tame chemicals.

Obviously this process couldn't possibly perpetuate itself thanks to cars producing kinetic entropy and that wonderful 2nd law, so we can toss in what is today wasted plant material into these super machines and add in just a little extra energy to the system.

This would be one big practical solar powered system, therefore we'd all be running on fusion power. Yay!

Well, I'll now take off my goggles.

This is probably a hoax, the efficiency is probably exaggerated, and we're all gonna die.

-Derick
petrochemical cracking (none / 0) (#179)
by Space on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:25:21 AM EST

I think your insane optimism is misplaced in this instance. Im fairly certain that peterolium products can be reduced to H2 using existing chemical cracking processes in the petrochemical industry without having to resort to electrolising water. Water electrolosis would only be used for converting solar energy into chemical fuel (H2). I think your insane optimisim is better focused upon this entire process. Such a process if credible would likely have recieved much more attention throughout the scientific community if it were considered feasable. The fact that you heard about this first on K5 and not Time magazine or New Scientist would lend me to believe this is sensationalism or a hoax rather than a scientific break through.
<recycle your pets>
[ Parent ]
bad agriculture (none / 0) (#180)
by Space on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 05:32:36 AM EST

Also It would probably be worse for the environment if energy production was expanded through agriculture because all the pesticides and irrigation needed to cultivate mass sugarcane (likely crop used for energy production) would severely damage the eco system.
<recycle your pets>
[ Parent ]
Kudzu (none / 0) (#193)
by OldCoder on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 07:31:48 AM EST

See more on kudzu.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]
While I /love/ kudzu... (none / 0) (#205)
by dikaiopolis on Fri May 02, 2003 at 05:28:22 PM EST

He was just talking about damaging the environment! D'oh!
gnoske seauton
[ Parent ]
if you can beat them, join them. into oil. (none / 0) (#178)
by somasonic on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 01:34:43 AM EST

now we can put to use all of those iraqis we kill while 'protecting' the oil wells!

go go usa!

Vegans have enough shit to worry about as it is. (none / 0) (#181)
by biggs on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 12:01:14 PM EST

n/t

--
"Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox
BP = British People (none / 0) (#190)
by thesprawl on Sat Apr 26, 2003 at 08:52:03 PM EST

n/t

Brain Machine Interface (none / 0) (#191)
by joeyo on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:05:28 AM EST

all. the. way.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." --

IT'S MADE OUT OF PEOPLE!! (none / 0) (#192)
by BludPoot on Sun Apr 27, 2003 at 02:06:01 AM EST

Somehow this seems all too "Soilent Green" for me...not that this is a bad thing mind you...

Water Rings? (none / 0) (#200)
by elined on Mon Apr 28, 2003 at 01:34:26 PM EST

Geez, sorta reminds me of Dune.  Can't wait to get my first water ring :)

Sigh. (none / 0) (#206)
by dikaiopolis on Fri May 02, 2003 at 05:52:51 PM EST

This sounds great, but why all the fuss when we could just be generating energy from the vacuum (http://www.cheniere.org/), or Solving all the world's problems with God's Harmouious Four-Day TimeCube?

When will people learn. The fact that discover magazine has latched onto this is just more pathetic. Apparently now that the dot-coms are over, we'll be in for another go-round of the venture capitolists having a field day, this time with Energy. Energy.com! I just want my rent to go down. History sure has plenty of precident for affluent people being really stupid.

Mommy, I'm hungry, will kosmo.com get it for me? Mommy, I'm hungry, where's the H2?

gnoske seauton

Research has serous problems (none / 0) (#207)
by cronian on Sat May 03, 2003 at 07:44:33 PM EST

Bearden doesn't seem to understand what he is doing. Check out this, and you can easily google for the article on Bearden's site, which this is from. Bearden doesn't seem to even understand basic math. He claims repeatably on his site that it is easy to get over parity efficiency, but he has yet to produce anything that will produce energy. He makes various claims about meaningless, but he doesn't seem to know what he is talking about.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Blood for Oil | 207 comments (185 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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