Monday, June 13, 2005

Eliminate Garbage, Produce Oil

We have seen Power from Garbage initiatives before, but nothing on this scale for sure.

Via Trends... and Joe Kissel:

US company Changing World Technologies, has managed to make Thermal Depolymerization work to produce oil, using the same process that nature takes some millenia to, in a few hours. In nature, organic matter is subjected to high temperatures and pressure, and knowing this process lots of folks have replicated this model in the laboratory. The difference is till now it has not been const-effective. Changing World Technologies claims that their method can produce oil cheaper than drilling it from the ground.

The process takes any sort of organic waste, from biomass and sewage, to plastic and rubber (even tyres), and produces a vaporous gas (a mixture of methane, propane, and butane), liquid oil (similar to a mixture of gasoline and motor oil), and powdered carbon. So you have virtually no waste products.

Not all implications of this technology are clear though. It will take some detailed studies to predict whether it can replace petroleum altogether in major economies. If it can, then it might actually be a big blow against clean renewable sources, rendering them almost forever uncompetitive. Either way, it will still be a great way to treat garbage in cities, and use it to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.