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Turkey Guts=Oil

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New machine can turn almost anything into oil:

    “This is a solution to three of the biggest problems facing mankind,” says Brian Appel, chairman and CEO of Changing World Technologies, the company that built this pilot plant and has just completed its first industrial-size installation in Missouri. “This process can deal with the world’s waste. It can supplement our dwindling supplies of oil. And it can slow down global warming.”

    Pardon me, says a reporter, shivering in the frigid dawn, but that sounds too good to be true.

    “Everybody says that,” says Appel. He is a tall, affable entrepreneur who has assembled a team of scientists, former government leaders, and deep-pocketed investors to develop and sell what he calls the thermal depolymerization process, or TDP. The process is designed to handle almost any waste product imaginable, including turkey offal, tires, plastic bottles, harbor-dredged muck, old computers, municipal garbage, cornstalks, paper-pulp effluent, infectious medical waste, oil-refinery residues, even biological weapons such as anthrax spores. According to Appel, waste goes in one end and comes out the other as three products, all valuable and environmentally benign: high-quality oil, clean-burning gas, and purified minerals that can be used as fuels, fertilizers, or specialty chemicals for manufacturing.

    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. [Discover]

“Soylent Green is people, it’s people!!!” Oh, sorry, wrong movie.

    “This is not an incremental change. This is a big, new step,” agrees Alf Andreassen, a venture capitalist with the Paladin Capital Group and a former Bell Laboratories director.

    Andreassen and others anticipate that a large chunk of the world’s agricultural, industrial, and municipal waste may someday go into thermal depolymerization machines scattered all over the globe. 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. Referring to U.S. dependence on oil from the volatile Middle East, R. James Woolsey, former CIA director and an adviser to Changing World Technologies, says, “This technology offers a beginning of a way away from this.”

This is outrageous, and if it pans out, the world will look very different in the near future. Zounds. Suddenly oil BECOMES the alternative fuel and EVERYTHING icky gets recycled.

Hey, let’s test it out on turkey guts:

    here at the plant at Philadelphia’s Naval Business Center, the experimental feedstock is turkey processing-plant waste: feathers, bones, skin, blood, fat, guts. A forklift dumps 1,400 pounds of the nasty stuff into the machine’s first stage, a 350-horsepower grinder that masticates it into gray brown slurry. From there it flows into a series of tanks and pipes, which hum and hiss as they heat, digest, and break down the mixture. Two hours later, a white-jacketed technician turns a spigot. Out pours a honey-colored fluid, steaming a bit in the cold warehouse as it fills a glass beaker.

    It really is a lovely oil.

Golly, maybe the war in Iraq wasn’t about oil after all.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Phillip Winn

    Chalk me up as a skeptic. This could be the cold fusion of 2003 if anybody takes it seriously before it is debunked. There are certainly laws of physics involved here, and they must be obeyed. To do things requires energy, and to process things produces waste.

    In some cases the waste is benign, as with hydrogen. There is still the question of where we get the energy to produce the hydrogen. I’m all for nuclear, but that’s a different subject for another day.

    So what energy is required for this miraculous transformation? Apparently none, if the claim that 175 pounds of manflesh will result in 175 pounds of output is to be believed.

    I don’t believe it is. Either this article was published on April 1, or we’ve got ourselves a kook.

    Update: before posting, I decided to actually read the article. I note that they claim a cost of only 15% of the input if it is complex enough (like turkey poop). So that 175 pound man would result in about 148 pounds of output then? Or they’re adding energy (from where?) into the system and not counting it.

    Getting to 5000 degrees and 600 psi isn’t cheap, so I’m not even sure I believe that 15% number, but maybe.

    In the end, I guess my main skepticism centers on their estimate of cost. $15 a barrel? Maybe. We’ll see.

  • Kate S.

    I, too, read the article, twice.
    The first time I couldn’t believe it. The second time I was taking notes. I spent three days trying to research the “discovery” to find at least one or two additional sources to validate the claim. I found nothing, despite the fact that the “Discover Magazine” writer spent the morning with the inventor and CEO/manager of the plant within a larger group of press, also taking notes. Where are their articles?
    Who were they? Not people posing as press in an elaborate scheme to dupe this poor guy, I hope. It was revealed around April 1st, if I remember correctly, and at the bottom of the page is the Disney ownership logo, lending a sudden mirthful quality.

    There are websites for the company that take garbage and turn it into oil, most likely a slick PR site, and one for “carbon chain 101″ as a tutorial guide for the chemistry-impaired, both of which I may venture into after a nap. Also, there must be papers published somewhere regarding this discovery.

    As a former member of Nader’s Raiders (circa 1969) I very much want this to be fact, not sci fi.

    Thanks to your contribution to the discussion at least I know I wasn’t seeing things or having a fantasy flashback, but I still have no reliable back-up with which to sandwich my own blog entry.

    I pull my hat down and dive into the breach once more, searching for others willing to talk turkey in the midst of an oil-based white house cream job.

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks so much Kate, you are doing very important work I was too lazy or blind or gullible or something to do for myself. Please let me know what you find, and we would love to run your blog article on it here as well, which means you will have to join Blogcritics. So there.

  • Mike G

    I would like to right my term paper on this subject and will be doing some reaserch on my own. Any credible info found would be appreciated. In turn I will post my results. But I am a begginer at this so bear with my spelling and writing ablillities. thanks

  • Phillip Winn

    Mike – Here’s a good starting point for your research: Start with their web page and identify how much press coverage they list. No, not the press releases they’ve got in their press section, actual press coverage. Wow, so little?

    Google for the names of the company principals, together with a differentiating word like “oil,” since Brian Appel at least is a popular name. Note how many of the results are the same exact Discover article listed here? Odd, that, and sadly lacking in any of the sort of detail which would allow for third-party verification of the story.

    I can’t decide if this is another cold fusion (foolish mistakes on the part of the people doing the “science”), a complete fraud, or just a case where nobody with the ability to ask the right questions has interviewed them yet. Where’s Wired when you need them?

    When I mentioned this triple-possibility to someone yesterday, they asked how a scientific mistake could be an issue, given the level of detail in the Discover article. I pointed out that the article claims a 1:1 ratio of turkey guts to oil at one point, but then claims a 15% energy cost at another. No mention is made of how exactly they measure the true energy cost, because they obviously can’t use energy generated by the turkey guts to process the turkey guts. Also, there is no confirmation of anywhere close to 1:1 or even a 1:.85 ratio of input to output. Instead the author witnesses 1400 pounds of something turned into a beaker of what looks like oil.

    Yes, I’m skeptical. It keeps my from being disappointed, again and again and again.

    Most likely, frankly, is that they are basing their estimates on what they expect to be able to do once they resolve those last few annoying little glitches in their system, not realizing that those “glitches” are actually imposed by the laws of physics. When they’re unable to hit less than $30/barrel (the current market price), we’ll see how happy things are for them.

  • theotherwaldo

    I’m amazed at the scepticism, malicious mis-quotes, and general confusion about thermal depolymerization. It should be obvious that it is a relatively simple process that uses standard industrial equipment.
    Acceptance and potential widespread approval of thermal depolymerization should be a no-brainer.
    Then I started looking at who was doing the heavy slams.
    Well, well.
    Earth-firsters; anti-globalizationists; anti-populationists; folks that think G.W. Bush is a cross between an oil baron and the antichrist, and extreme liberals in general.
    I judge people and industries by the enemies that they accumulate.
    On that basis alone, thermal depolymerization looks pretty good.

  • genecis

    At $30. a barrel the process would still be a winner just to get rid of the sh!t. I’m skeptical, but hopeful; as an optimist would be. I hope more information will be forthcoming from science or the Conagra experiment. Whatever comes out of the process it could be hooked up to existing turbine/burner/generator technology to generate power with benign exhaust emissions, such as those being used in CA for utililization of sewage treatment gases. Those generators can burn LPG/natural gas, methane or oil. “Hope springs eternal” and so does sh!t.

  • dr mac

    Patent No. 5,269,947
    Thermal depolymerizing reforming process and apparatus
    Baskis December 14, 1993
    Full Text, Drawings, Specifications, Claims, and Corrections
    The Discover article (now parroted on CNN) has kicked off a major foment on the Internet. Below are some observations and extensive calculations based on very limited information provided by CWT and known standard units and measures. This material is presented here in a good faith effort to understand the relative potential (utility) of TDP wrt total US ‘oil’ consumption.

    From post: “Their energy numbers are [highly] specious. They give efficiency as the energy content of the input waste over the energy use. That’s flat-out misleading. They should tell us usable energy of the output fuel. That’s all the matters. We do not rate coal plants by the energy of the coal they burn; after all, all we care about is the output. This little evasion suggests that they are not being completely honest in their entire analysis.” (Bonehead at

    “An actual [honest] measure of TDP efficiency would contrast usable energy content of the OUTPUT (not of the inputs) to the energy required to drive the reaction/process.” (dr mac)

    The above two statements precipitated a heated ongoing ‘discussion’ at another forum. Some of my posts are copied below.

    nE(∑ inputs) + nE (processing power requirement) => nE (∑usable output) – nE(∑ losses)
    where: n = quantity of measure in consistent units

    SINCE the purveyors of TDP do not report an entire side (nE out or nE loss) of the above equation they cannot state the efficiency of their process by reporting only the other side. They almost certainly know Eout and Eloss but they do not report it. That fact alone is ‘curious’ at best. Basing an ‘efficiency’ rating on hidden/disguised information is suspicious enough. But, implying to a gullible audience that 100 in + 15 in = 85% efficient is fraudulent. They might have actually achieved an 85% efficacious recovery process but they can’t support this claim with the limited information presented. This conjurer’s trick might go over well on Madison Avenue (seems to be working fine in marketing) but can hardly withstand informed scientific scrutiny.

    TDP may eventually help reduce the rate of landfill closures and perhaps even minimally mitigate geo-C withdrawals and more doubtfully slow oil revenue flows into middle-Eastern fiefdoms (et al)
    from a ‘science’ perspective: a) this is not new, b) reported information does not support their claims, c) has not received ANY ‘peer review’ (that I can find), d) the purposeful misrepresentation/manipulation of the basic tenets of thermodynamics and energy transfer (to an audience of gullible neophytes and dreamy futurists) carries less then zero weight.

    A few curious calculations by others wrt reported ‘efficiency’ claims.

    “Actually it’s 100 in, 85 out. 15 in and 100 out would be 666% efficiency” (Bobby Mac)

    “The calculation that would be applied to this conversion in the biofuels world would be to simply divide the usable output by the *energy used to run the process* , or 85/15, which yields an overall efficiency of 567%, not the 85% reported in the article.” (David)

    The International Network of Feed Information Center (INFIC)lists:
    IFN#5-03-798 poultry, viscera w/head & feet = 5,080 kcal/kg
    conversions = 21,254 kJ/kg =>10,795,650 kJ/ (dw) ton = 0.1079565E+08 kJ/ton
    DW% 100
    GE (kcal/kg) =5,080
    Protein, crude (%) = 62.0 Ether extr.= 13.2
    Fiber, crude (%) = 2.5 N-free extr. = 6.0
    Ash (%) = 16.3
    total vitamin content (%) = 6.9
    elemental, vitamin & amino acid composition avail. on request
    Calc: protein + ash +fiber + vit = 87.7%
    Calc: lipid + carbo =12.3%
    Calc: 5,080 kcal/kg => 3.15 bbl crude equiv. or 3.0 bbl #2 h.o.
    For number crunchers:
    lipids = 9.4 kcal/g
    carbohydrates = 4.1 kcal/g
    proteins = 5.6 kcal/g
    oxidation of H = 34.5 kcal/g
    oxidation of C = 8 kcal/g
    oxidation of glucose = 686 kcal/mol
    hydrolysis of ATP = 8 kcal/mol

    GE = (Ein + Eproc) = (Eout + Eproc) or Ein = Eout
    GE = gross energy
    Ein = TDP organic input energy content,
    Eproc = TDP processing energy requirement,
    Eout = TDP organic output energy content,
    AND n = any value

    Example: If (Ein + Eproc) =115; then (Eout + Eproc) =115

    Discover text statements (IMO) suggests (implies):
    If: (Eout-15)/(100+15) =0.85; then Eout = 112.8 (≠, not possible)
    or perhaps If:(Eout+15)/(100+15) =0.85; then Eout = 135.3 (≠, not possible)
    However, If: (Eout +15)/(85 + 15) = 0.85; then Eout = 85 (which is 100% “efficient”)

    Calculations on TDP values as presented in Discover article and known composition of poultry ‘waste’ (IMO) follows.

    Calc.: Organic Input @ 5,080 kcal/kg = 10.8 million Btu/ DW ton offal
    “oil” output of 600 bbl #2 equiv./200 wet tons “waste” (ignoring 10 tons unspecified “gas” energy)
    #2 equiv = 43,108 Btu/kg. (1 bbl is 42 US gallons and 136.4 kg) (3.15 bbl equiv crude = 3.0 bbl #2 heat oil)
    43,108 Btu/kg x 136.4 kg/bbl x (600/200) bbl = 17.64 million Btu/ton (offal wet)
    17.64 (TDP#’s)/10.8 (DW ‘offal’ content) = 1.63 (or 63% energy ‘created’)
    1 kJ Ein + n kJ Eproc &#8800 (~1.63 kJ Eout + n kJ Eproc); where n = any value
    If: Ein =100 and Eproc =15; then Eout ≠ (163 + Eproc) ≠175 (not possible)
    If: (Ein + Eproc) =115 then (Eout + Eproc) = 115; therefore when Eproc=15; then Ein =100 =Eout
    If: (Ein + Eproc) =100 then (Eout + Eproc) = 100; therefore when Eproc=15; then Ein = 85 =Eout
    If: Ein = 100 and Eproc = any value (n); then (Eout + nEproc) =100 and Eout = (100 – n)
    Assuming: Eproc = n kJ, and (Eout + Eproc) = GE = (1.63 kJ + Eproc); then Ein = 1.63 kJ

    Calc.: If GE = Eout = Ein = 1.63 kJ; then E content of processed “waste” = approx. 8,280 kcal/kg
    Note: 8280 kcal/kg is about the energy content of pure fat

    Those who say (Out a+b – (Out b)/Out a+ b where a+ b = 100 are expressing a fractional relationship between “a” and “b” as a percentage rather than as a ratio. IMO, this is not a measure of ‘efficiency’ wrt the energetics of any system. This is also not an especially useful measure of ‘efficiency’ in an economic sense as mentioned previously by others.

    Example 1. This idiosyncratic usage of “efficiency” is (IMO) rather like saying that an apple contains pericarp (exocarp+mesocarp+endocarp), petiole (stem) and seed. The stem and seeds collectively are, for illustration, = 1% of the total mass in the apple, and we ‘choose’ to not ingest them. Therefore, by extension, the apple is then (100-1)/100 = 99% efficient? Then, would a cherry be 90% efficiency and a peach = 75% efficient? That may be convenient (or not). The apple may be considered as 99% edible but 100% of its mass contains energy. I cannot see how it’s relevant to the ‘value’ or energetics of an apple. This merely expresses the fractional relationship of selected aspects (components) of an apple. The apple is not 99% efficient chemically or otherwise (IMO).

    TDP is an “open” system meaning both energy and matter are exchanged.
    TE = (GE + Eproc) = Eout
    TE = total energy in (of) system
    GE = energy content of the organic input
    Ein = GE+ Eproc
    Eout = (Eoil + Eproc + Eother)
    Eproc = (Etemp + Epressure + Efriction + Eelectromechanical + Eheat of reaction + Eother)
    Eother = (Eentropy + Eunaccounted, Eresidual in ‘mineral’ fraction, etc.)
    TE = Ein = (GE + Eproc) = (Eoil + Eproc + Eother)
    TE= (GE + Eother) for any value Eproc
    (1 GE + 0.15 GE) = 1.15GE = (0.85 GE – (-Eproc) – Eother)
    1.0 GE = Eoil + Eother

    GE/ton =10.8 M btu
    Then: Eoil= (10.8 M btu – Eother)
    If Eother = 0 then GE = Eoil and GE/Eoil =1 =100%

    IMO, Eother can never = 0
    For the sake of discussion, let us assume that Eother = 0
    and compare apples to apples (i.e. btu to btu, kJ to kJ, etc)

    CWT states that they produce 600 bbl oil + Eproc from unspecified mass of turkey ‘waste’ > 200 ton including H2O
    Calc: 600 bbl # 2ho equiv. x 43,108 btu/kg x 136.4 kg/bbl = 3.53 Billon btu
    Therefore GE >= 3.53 B btu = 630 equiv bbl crude = 600 equiv bbl #2ho

    Energy content of GE = 5,080 kcal/kg = 20,145.6 btu/kg
    Conversions: 1 kcal = 3.96567 btu = 0.708144E-06 equiv. bbl crude
    3.53 B btu / 20,145.6 btu/kg = DW mass of input = 175,123 kg = 193.1 DW short ton
    Assuming moisture content of ‘offal’ is 43.8% (calculated from 21,000 US gal/200 wet ton)
    Then 56.2% of the total wet mass is the DW mass of GE input
    Therefore: total mass of ‘offal’ input required = 343.64 wet ton
    (Note: value of Eproc is irrelevant wrt energy conservation)

    IF: GE mass = 112 DW ton (from 200 wet ton);
    then, GE >= 8,280 kcal/kg (from a previously posted calculation)
    If Eother =0 and Eproc = any value

    THEN 5,080 kcal input => 5,080 kcal output = 100%
    And 8,280 kcal in => 8,280 kcal output = 100%

    I can state with 99.9% confidence (statistically speaking) that Eother is not = 0. (e.g. Entropy is real and unavoidable)
    We do not know what value (n, or n%) Eother takes (is) in the TDP process as envisioned
    IMO, it is likely that CWT does not know Eother precisely either.
    They may very well have a ballpark guess based on small-scale experimentation

    Someone purporting to be a biochemical/energy ‘expert’ – a technological ‘genius’- (i.e. Appel) who makes public statements that a system is“85% efficient” based on output compartmentalization /division alone is being disingenuous and/or deceptive (IMO) and obviously has an agenda to perpetrate. I suspect this agenda is more money for him (them).
    IMO, someone who cannot make the distinction (tell the difference) is not “thinking” but rather engaging in conjecture (fantasizing).
    IMO, anyone who chooses to believe this to be a useful measure of either “efficiency” or of “value” is either ignorant, stupid, delusional, or any combination thereof. I recognize that the world is full of such people.

    TDP Economics 101:
    IMO, it may very well be that the TDP process is the most economically viable (productive) means of disposal of turkey (and other) ‘wastes’. Instead of costing ConAgra say $25/ton in disposal costs (+ regulatory costs + litigation costs + public relations costs, etc) they make money.
    Assuming disposal and associated costs to ConAgra = $25/ton (now)
    Then the disposal of 343.6 tons currently costs them $8,590 (per day?)
    Assuming a barrel of #2ho is $45.00 on the spot market.
    1.0957 dollars a gallon (08 Feb. 03) = $46/bbl
    600 bbl returns them $27,000 (per day?)
    The gain to CWT/ConAgra is ($8,590 + $27, 000) = +$35,590/day (or $102.76/wet ton offal)

    If CWT generates $27,000/day worth of oil, then how much can (will) ConAgra charge them for the ‘offal’? Anyone’s guess!
    Would anyone care to perhaps attempt to calculate the ‘efficiency’ of disposal in economic terms?

    More Opinion:
    And CWT/ConAgra/Discover would have us believe that they are doing this for us – for the environment – for humanity?
    IMO, when ‘disposal’ by an alternative method is deemed more profitable than the currently employed method, then this is exactly what they will attempt to do (no matter what others may ‘think’ individually or collectively).
    Regardless of any n(%) Eproc requirement – or of any calculated contrivance of claimed ‘efficiency’ – this is ‘marketing’ hyperbole (‘blowing smoke’) – and not science.
    IMO, the n% Eproc requirement is erroneous and the ‘efficiency’ claim as presented is intentionally deceptive (and effectively so). e.g. an apple is 99% ‘efficient’.
    Yes, they will probably make money (generate wealth) and ‘save the landfills’. Halleluiah!
    The above opinion(s) should not be construed by others to suggest (indicate) that I ‘think’ (believe) TDP a ‘wasted’ effort in any other respect. e.g. apples taste good to me.
    I post this with an expectation that some set of actors here will ‘pull a Clinton’ and quibble about what the meaning of what “is” is!

    DEFINITIONS: “Glossary of Energy Terms” from
    “Efficacy – The amount of energy service or useful energy delivered per unit of energy input. Often used in reference to lighting systems, where the visible light output of a luminary is relative to power input; expressed in lumens per Watt; the higher the efficacy value, the higher the energy efficiency.”
    “Efficiency – Under the First Law of Thermodynamics, efficiency is the ratio of work or energy output to work or energy input, and cannot exceed 100 percent.”
    “Efficiency – under the Second Law of Thermodynamics is determined by the ratio of the theoretical minimum energy that is required to accomplish a task relative to the energy actually consumed to accomplish the task. Generally, the measured efficiency of a device, as defined by the First Law, will be higher than that defined by the Second Law.”

    I can agree that (100-15)/100 = 0.85 efficacy or effective.
    If they had said “efficacy” I could not quibble.
    The article’s use of “efficiency” ignores the 2nd and 3rd Laws of Thermodynamics.
    What comes out MUST have gone in.
    What goes in does NOT necessarily come out

    Poultry production statistics (US, 2002) from
    Chickens: 44.1 Billion lbs @ 65% dressed weight => 7,801,868 tons ‘waste’
    Turkey: 7.41 Billion lbs @ 65% dressed weight =>1,251,947 tons ‘waste’
    Total ‘waste’ @5080 kJ/kg = 3.15 bbl crud equiv./ton ‘waste’ = 28,519,517 bbl crude equiv.
    Assuming TDP is 85% efficacious = 24,241,590 bbl crude net = 123% of ONE DAYS oil consumption in US

    CONVERSION OF ALL MEAT ‘WASTES’ (assumes that it is being ‘wasted’ currently)
    Total meat (all sources) consumption per capita in US @ 221lb/person /year – Say 300lb live weight/ person @65% dressed. This leaves about 100lb meat waste/person. Through TPD would make about 40lbs #2oil/person each year. What’s that? 8 gal. per person. (foregoing courtesy of Reinharg)

    RE: Swine Manure
    “In this preliminary [1998] study, 8.5% of volatile solids were converted to a low quality oil-like product. We are in the process of increasing the oil production from the TCC process. Many researchers have employed liquefaction, one type of TCC process, to increase the yields of oil from different types of biomass (Appel et al., 1980; Datta and McAuliffe, 1993) by applying reductive compounds (e.g., hydrogen and carbon monoxide) to the de-oxygenation process. In our next stage research, we will use hydrogen and/or carbon monoxide as reductants to increase oil production.”
    A preliminary study on the TCC process of swine manure has been carried out with aims of reducing swine waste and odor emission, and producing oil. A TCC bench processor has been developed and tested. COD levels of the swine manure sludge were reduced by 94%. Approximately 8.5% of the volatile solid were converted into oil product. The preliminary results show that the TCC technology has the potential to be applied to swine manure treatment. Further studies are in process to explore the optimum operating conditions for maximum oil production and waste/odor reduction.”
    “The extracted oils showed an average Heat Value of 30,500 kJ/kg.”

    At 8.5% TVS => 2,293 kJ/DW ton manure = 5.7% equiv bbl #2h.o./ton swine manure (#2h.o. = 45,481 kJ/kg) 5.7% bbl = 2.4 gal. I could reasonably require this much fuel just to move each ton of manure from barn (pens, pile) into the TDP processor.

    The perceived relative merits (e.g. enviromental advantages) of this “new” technology are neither my concern here nor my purview – that is the domain of CWT, ConAgra, et al. If it makes sense ($) to them, then they will attempt development regardless of ‘efficiency’, public opinion, scientific scrutiny, etc. It may also be advantageous for ConAgra to implement TDP even if it should prove to be not profitable in immediate-economic sense.

    WRT Third World, Alaska, and municipal sewerage treatment applications of CWT/TDP: look up “proprietary” and “patent”.

    Thanks to the miraculous synergy of CWT’s thermo-altruism as coupled with the generosity of ConAgra we all can now be freed to consume presumptively without regard to conscience (while 6+ children die every bleeping second in Africa alone (15/sec globally) from easily preventable dehydration (mainly dysentery) as just one ‘trivial’ example). No problems, Mates!

  • Eric Olsen

    Thank you Dr., you win the longest comment ever award. I still say if it works, it’s a good idea.

  • Phillip Winn

    Thanks, dr mac, for backing up my initial reactions with some better information. It all comes down to how efficiently they can produce usable oil, and there’s no way in heck they can produce it for the cost they’re claiming, in energy costs or financial cost.

    One note, though. They seem to claim that essentially anything can be used as input, not just animal waste. So the fact that all the animal waste in American would only produce a certain number of days or hours worth of oil at whatever efficiency isn’t necessarily enough to dismiss them, because they’ll claim some outrageously low energy cost to producing oil from something else next.

    In the end, it seems that they’re obviously lying, but it might work out as something work pursuing anyway, just to make better use of waste products than simply storing them in a landfill.


  • dr mac

    Phillip. You said it (lying), I didn’t. The Discover article was pure advertising (propaganda not science) and mainly for ConAgra IMO. Either it was very poorly written or incredibly ‘creative’. You can bet that CWT proofed the copy very carefully prior to publication. It did accomplish what they set out to do and drawn attention to themselves. The part that gets to me is that they seem to “need” to tell us that they are doing all this to radically “change the world” for the better (for us). As if the very significant profit incentive wasn’t already enough motivation for the principles. Notice they are not seeking investors (CWT is not publically traded – but CAG is!). I note with some curiosity that former CIA Director Woolsey is a ‘consultant’ to CWT. I ‘suppose’ his expertise is required in thermodynamics or refining and not ‘information warfare.
    Personally, I rather like the detoxification of hazardous waste and BioChem warfare agents application potential. Really! And, are ‘we’ not so very fortunate that these great altruists finally figured out how to do that for us? Right! hahaha

  • dr mac

    TDP in theory: 100% US poultry ‘waste’ (at 35% live weight @ 0.85 efficacy) = 24.32 M bbl crude equiv. = 123% one day oil consumption = 0.337% annual oil use. (US oil use @ 19.7 M bpd = 7.2 B bbl/year) = 0.135% US Energy consumption (@ 40% from oil)

    Energy to produce meat: ((2 cal. Photosynth. + 4-10 cal. oil for feed grain input alone)* + production E costs e.g. heat and cooling, ventilation, water delivery, transport) = <1 cal. LW poultry (or beef, hog, etc) = <0.5 cal. purchased product (Eoil to Efood 8:1 to 20:1) + <0.33 cal. processing ‘waste (Eoil to E’waste’ of 12:1 to 30:1) w/o chilling, processing, transport, packaging, storage, shopping, refrigeration, cooking, disposal product and costs, etc.

    "It has been estimated that about four percent of the nation's energy budget is used to grow food, while about 10 to 13 percent is needed to put it on our plates. In other words, a staggering total of 17 percent of America's energy budget is consumed by agriculture! " p. 172, BEYOND OIL, Gever et al.; Univ. Pr. Colorado 1991. hPercentage of grain consumed by cattle: 70% [12% US energy budget]

    * Don’t believe it? Well, do your own research!

    example search resource:

    For global energy supply/use information see (for example)

    For Biomass information see (for example)

    Either reducing poultry production or increasing the fraction consumed by as little as 3% would save as much fossil fuel energy as TDP can theoretically produce from the total current ‘waste’ resource.

    The average automobile engine is 20% efficient (or 24 mpg) in converting gasoline heat energy into mechanical work. 69% of oil consummed in US is for transport. An increase to 21% avg. efficient engines (to 25.2 mpg) would ‘save’ 343 M bbl/yr (or 14 times TDP poultry ‘oil’ capacity)

    “Future food” [is now] being consumed by using gasoline in [inefficient] vehicles:
    “Gasoline consumed ‘now’ will deprive future agriculture of energy required for producing food.
    Here’s how much future food a 30 m.p.g vehicle is “eating” now
    Bread, 1 kg loaf = 6 miles= one slice per 422 yards
    Beef, 1 kg = consumed by driving 76.2 miles
    Canned corn 1 kg= consumed by driving 5.4 miles”

    Third World country’s have long known and used anerobic digestion (and direct combustion) to extract energy from organic wastes and will continue to do so as it’s known and simpler technology, a much cheaper capital investment with lower processing costs and is much more readily decentralized than TDP could be envisioned particularly considering the proprietary nature of CWT’s technology and its US patent.

    HOWEVER: 24.32 M bbl crude equiv. from ALL poultry ‘waste’ at $30/bbl = $729,600,000/year (income potential, all to CWT )

    And TDP/CWT is going to “Change The World”?
    Yep, they will produce a few more Billionaires by creatively manipulating a totally sustainable process (and us).

    If biomass is to supply a greater proportion of the world’s energy needs in the future, the challenge will be to produce biomass sustainably and [then] to convert and use it without harming the natural environment. Taking a tiny fraction of 17% of US total energy demand (which is itself less than 10-20% energy efficient) and increasing said ‘efficiency’ by a fraction of one percent is not going to begin addressing US energy security or sustainability of US agriculture. IMO.

  • charlie Gibson

    I read with interest in Science News several
    years? ago, but have seen nothing lately, why?
    It was my understanding a plant was being built
    and ready for production in MO several years ago.
    What happened? Seems I remember reading that some
    of the coal tar sands could also be used more
    ecconomically than with the present practice.
    It sounded GREAT to me even then, but now with
    the price of crude at almost $70 + a barrel….
    ……Lets heare some more if it is a real deal!
    We need an alternative plus E 87 and wind power.
    I am betting on you!!!

  • iceshield

    I live here in MO not that far from the plant in question. Maybe I will drive down and see it for myself. I find it amazing that one guy tries doing something and all that happens is that he gets slammed.