Anything Into Oil

2006-06-19 13:07 - Links

A first-stage reactor breaks down the stuff with heat and pressure, after which the pressure rapidly drops, flashing off excess water and minerals. ... The remaining concentrated organic soup then pours into a second reaction tank ... where it is heated to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and pressurized to 600 pounds per square inch. In 20 minutes, the process replicates what the deep earth does to dead plants and animals over centuries, chopping long, complex molecular chains of hydrogen and carbon into short-chain molecules.

Holy crap, I never would have thought that would be possible. Even better, they claim that it is sustainable:

The whole process is efficient, says Terry Adams, the company's chief technology officer: Only 15 percent of the potential energy in the feedstock is used to power the operation; 85 percent is embodied in the output of oil and other products.

It seems terribly exciting. Trash into oil, with positive effiency? Sign me up! But of course, there's a down side. Early on, the article says 500 barrels of oil made from 270 tons of turkey guts and 20 tons of pig fat, meaning 300 tons of waste turns into 500 barrels of not-quite-as-good-as-fossil oil? Well, America alone burns on the order of 7.1 billion barrels of oil per year. At that rate, we'll need 4.26 billion tons of suitable waste per year. America generates about 400 million tons as of about the same date as the oil usage figure. That's low, by a factor of ten, even assuming 100% of that waste is captured, and suitable for the process.

Now, with all that said, this is still friggin' awesome. Which makes it just a bigger shame that due to laws and politics, this will probably happen in Europe long before it does in the US.


No comments!

Post a comment:

  If you do not have an account to log in to yet, register your own account. You will not enter any personal info and need not supply an email address.

You may use Markdown syntax in the comment, but no HTML. Hints:

If you are attempting to contact me, ask me a question, etc, please send me a message through the contact form rather than posting a comment here. Thank you. (If you post a comment anyway when it should be a message to me, I'll probably just delete your comment. I don't like clutter.)