free html hit counter Peak Oil Debunked: 199. TDP PLANT SHUT DOWN DUE TO VILE STENCH

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Thermal depolymerization (TDP) is a technique which uses heat and pressure to convert organic waste into crude oil. The process is a favorite of business-as-usual cornucopians who think the US could easily produce 10mbd of oil from landfills and other sources of garbage. To demonstrate the viability of the concept, they point to the Renewable Environmental Solutions (RES) plant in Carthage, Missouri, which is currently producing about 200 barrels of fuel oil per day from turkey offal provided by a ConAgra turkey rendering plant.

The hype surrounding this tiny facility has been way overblown:
When RES opened in 2003, the media and the scientific community hailed the technology as a solution to America's dependence on foreign oil, global warming, contaminated feedstock and landfill shortages. That was just for starters. The New York Times Magazine's 2003 "Year in Ideas" issue cited RES, noting that "the day might yet come when we'll turn everything we don't want into the very stuff that, like it or not, makes our world go around." Scientific American named RES's parent company, Changing World Technologies, to its "list of winners," a prized spot among the top 50 innovators of 2003. Money magazine called Changing World Technologies "the Next Big Thing." MIT Technology Review, Fortune, Fast Company and Business Week were just some of those who weighed in on the technology's potential. And in Discover magazine, a story called "Anything Into Oil" described how the technology could ultimately produce 4 billion barrels of light crude oil a year — roughly half the amount that the United States used in 2001. Investors — including ConAgra, the New York real-estate investment firm Sterling Equities and tire distributor Max Finkelstein — have poured $100 million into Changing World Technologies, according to its 47-year-old CEO, Brian Appel.

Chemistry, it appeared, had caught up with science fiction, recalling the time-traveling DeLorean that runs on garbage scraps in the movie Back to the Future.Source
There is a catch, however. The plant stinks like you can't believe:
But the stench passing over her house these days in Carthage makes her want to gag. "There are really just no words to describe it," she says. "The smell is so horrible." If it makes her think of anything, she says, it's a corpse, rotting in the sun right there on her lawn. The reek sometimes lasts an hour or two. Sometimes it stays all day. "I have vomited in my yard," she says.Source
In fact, the stench from this plant has been so persistent and disgusting that the Governor of Missouri ordered it to shutdown yesterday:
Gov. Blunt orders RES in Carthage to close
Updated: 2005-12-28 17:28:28-06
JEFFERSON CITY Gov. Matt Blunt today ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to temporarily close Renewable Environmental Solutions (RES) Inc., of Carthage until the department reviews the company's operations and gives them the opportunity to determine what additional steps it can take to become compliant with state air quality rules and operate without producing a vile odor.

Blunt also directed DNR to pursue every legal option to ensure the plant is compliant with state clean air laws and to refer any violations to the attorney general for legal action.

"The people of Carthage have endured terrible odors from the plant for too long,” Blunt said. “I want the business to be successful but the concerns of the people who live and work near the plant is more important to me. If left unresolved, this one business will have a negative impact on the region by hurting tourism and job growth. We simply cannot allow one company to bring down an entire community."Source
-- by JD


At Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 10:42:00 PM PST, Anonymous Distraught Optimist said...

No!!! No!!! No!!! JD, don't post this!!! Thermal Depolymerization was going to be our savior. I had already set up an altar and was praying to it 5 times a day.

Should I switch religions and start praying to lunar solar power with you as its high priest?


At Wednesday, December 28, 2005 at 11:10:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that the Doomers shut it down. There is supposed to be this PeakOil club near by and they have been plugging up the pipes with tar balls. I know this because my mother told me that PeakOilers are like devil woreshippsers

At Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 1:47:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, we'd give up that much potential because of odor?

"savior" ?

we don't need some 150 million barrels per day savior, what we need is rationality and personal accountability.

At Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 9:40:00 AM PST, Anonymous Adenosine said...

Well, as long as they stink up a state that I'm not living in.....

At Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 5:37:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great! Now we can get on with the business of setting up our feudal post-doom state. I elect JD Chief Vegetarian and Guard of the Lambs.

At Thursday, December 29, 2005 at 9:53:00 PM PST, Anonymous The Techno Lemming said...

thank God JD's lunar solar power plan is ready to deploy any day now that thermal depolymerization has forsaken us.

At Friday, December 30, 2005 at 12:42:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so, slam the guy pretty hard for trying to infuse some hope into your miserable lives........who cares about a dieoff most of you are dead inside anyway......

At Friday, December 30, 2005 at 1:38:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TDP was a "business as usual" pipedream.

Sure recycling lost energy is a good idea, and we should go places with it, but I think you guys are missing JD's point.

The current lifestyle we (mainly Americans) have is *not* sustainable.

Does this mean we are all going to die? Of course not, that's absurd, need be they set up a police state and ration using domestic fossil fuels to keep the essential cogs turning and we end up a third world country. We have coal, reserves, etc that can acomplish *that*.

That's pretty extreme though, a recession or depression is more likely, possibly for over a decade, but the 70s oil shocks proved people could conserve (look at a graph of US oil conservation after the shock and see what I mean). Lifestyles will be forced to change, and things will be alot less painful if we can change *before* the crisis happens rather than after.

I think that's what JD is getting at but someone correct me if I'm wrong. (and that anyone thinking TDP would in any way shape or form replace oil is silly, it will never be more than suplement, and is possibly the only area of discussion where the vaunted 2nd law of thermodynamics is relavant - since you cant get more energy out of a plastic bottle than was put into making it)

At Friday, December 30, 2005 at 3:42:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can TDP not process many different types of wastes into a usuable product?

sewage, plant and animal waste, garbage, wood, etc........
maybe the process might be useful for not only recycling, but for using resources not once feasible as fuel in a portable liquid form........?

At Saturday, December 31, 2005 at 1:39:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, leading back to my comment about how this technology should be explored further.

An eco friendly TDP plant with positive energy returns is (In my opinion) in the "would be nice" pile of peak oil solutions along with fusion power.

It seems unlikely to make any serious dents in the energy issue, but abandoning it completely would also be foolish.

At Monday, January 2, 2006 at 1:34:00 PM PST, Anonymous Lunar Doomer said...

Can't wait for "lunar solar power plan shut down due to sheer idiocy of advocates. . ."

At Monday, January 2, 2006 at 3:05:00 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone once said that anyone who would use a Internal Combustion engine would be a madman as they would likely be blown up or burned alive......

At Monday, January 2, 2006 at 7:25:00 PM PST, Anonymous disgustedandamused said...

I haven't been to through SW Missouri lately, so I haven't seen this plant myself. But from maps of the town I've picked up off the Web, the TDP plant and its associated turkey processing plant are pretty much in the middle of town. This is not some remote exurban industrial park, but close to older residential neighborhoods next to an in-town railroad siding. Any externality problems have little wiggle room in that sort of location.

Keep in mind that this plant is using a slaughterhouse next door for its raw material. In fact, the vast majority of potential raw materials for this process consist of smelly items, including: dead bodies (livestock), manure, human sewage, garbage, organic waste from your local factories, old tires... you're bound to have an odor-control problem just getting this s**t in the hopper in the first place, let alone any later. Plus, have any of you ever smelled an oil refinery? The final product ain't perfume.

This TDP plant probably doesn't belong at its current location, but then the turkey processing plant probably doesn't belong at its current location either. Most chemical processing factories (for that matter, including ethanol distilleries) need to be a mile or two away from suburban density residential neighborhoods whenever possible. Most of the places that need this technology already smell to high heaven -- in fact, the smell alone is only the tip of the iceberg of pollution problems these sites have faced for decades, yet somehow these operations have been put up with so far.

One possible reason to object to building TDP plants next to the current raw material operations: if TDP (or its competitor-processes, it has a couple) works, then locals may lose some negotiating room to get nasty operations moved out of the neighborhood. I don't know that this was the case here, but if someone told you "this will make it possible to live next to a slaughterhouse," then smells continued without explanation... yeah, I'd pop up and say something.

I'll bet this place is simply shut down temporarily until they figure out how to to cover dead turkey parts at the slaughterhouse with something more serious than a tarp. Control the odor at the source before it leaves, use enclosed truck docks to receive and off-load it, review the whole design for odor leakage.

As for the energy returned on energy invested arguments:
1. If the original materials were made from fossil fuels, then the source-stock will run out before we have a chance to recycle it. To the extent we have NO alternatives for material resources than oil, then to that extent TDP will be useless. My reply to that: take a look at both coal resources (including seabed coal mentioned in other posts on this blog), and the potential (eventually) for biomass and bio-refineries. Of course, the doom wing will bring up the use of natural gas as fertilizer feedstock...

The main benefit should be the ability to make a useful set of fuels from stuff currently just landfilled at some expense.

I'm betting North America can somehow muddle through if we can manage to get half our current per capita energy budget. That should within reach, using better energy productivity, recycling (like this), biomass and renewable energy sources. It also would entail cutting back to a lifestyle with an energy budget comparable to present-day Europe or Japan, at least for starters.

One anonymous asked whether or not TDP can be used for resources besides current waste products. The Changing World Technologies website does mention they are looking at its possibilities for processing some of the oil industries current sub-optimal fuel sources, including (if memory serves correctly) tar sands, oil shale, and coal to oil and gas. If it works, then PO may be postponed, but Global Warming will still be an issue...

At Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 10:38:00 AM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>Of course, the doom wing will >bring up the use of natural gas >as fertilizer feedstock...

This argument makes me sad, especially that people buy it.

1. Natural Gas is not peaking, and will not peak for quite some time, your high gas bills are due to lack of forsight by some select individuals - not due to a geological lack of natural gas around the planet. Even LNG is cheap enough for "feedstock"

2. China and South Africa use coal to produce feedstock, and the governer of Illionis is working on producing most of Illinois' fertilizer from coal instead of NG because it's cheaper.

Using coal has problems associated with it, which we may have to deal with later on, but it hardly means we'll starve to death

At Wednesday, April 26, 2006 at 2:00:00 AM PDT, Blogger David Grenier said...

Wouldn't it make more sense to take that organic matter and compost it for use as natural fertilizer? To be honest, I don't know much about composting or agriculture, and I know NOTHING about TD, so I may be way off.

Still, I remember when I was a kid we had our "trash can" and our "garbage can" (there was no recycling at the time). Trash was all the normal stuff, garbage was all the food scraps. Once a week a local farmer would collect the garbage for compost or pig slop or something of that sort.

I'm not sure when the practice died out, but my parents still live in the same house and they haven't had a garbage collection in decades.


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