Thermal Waste to Energy Advances

Changing World Technologies, Inc. unveiled what they believe is the first commercially successful application of thermal technology to convert organic waste into clean energy.

West Hempstead, New York – April 15, 2003 [] Building on scientific research dating to the 1920s and human history extending from the Stone Age, CWT has patented, tested and deployed a technological process that has been awarded US$12 million in grants from the US government and produced a joint venture with ConAgra Foods, Inc. “If the process works as well as its creators claim, not only would most toxic waste problems become history, so would imported oil,” said Discover magazine, which features a full-length article on CWT’s thermal process in the May 2003 issue. Utilizing low-value waste by-products such as tires, plastics, municipal sewage sludge, paper, animal and agricultural refuse as feedstocks, CWT’s thermal technology provides a commercially viable solution for some of the earth’s gravest environmental challenges, including arresting global warming by reducing the use of fossil fuels and reforming organic waste into a high-value resource. In addition, it has the potential to substantially reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Where earlier attempts at thermal conversion failed, CWT’s thermal process succeeds in breaking down long chains of organic polymers into their smallest units and reforming them into new combinations to produce clean solid, liquid and gaseous alternative fuels and specialty chemicals. The conversion process emulates the earth’s natural geothermal activity, whereby organic material is converted into fossil fuel under conditions of extreme heat and pressure over millions of years. The cornerstone technology, called Thermal Depolymerization Process or TDP, mimics the earth’s system by using pipes and controlling temperature and pressure to reduce the bio-remediation process from millions of years to mere hours. The process entails five steps: — Pulping and slurrying the organic feed with water. — Heating the slurry under pressure to the desired temperature. — Flashing the slurry to a lower pressure to separate the mixture. — Heating the slurry again (coking) to drive off water and produce light hydrocarbons. — Separating the end products. TDP is 85 percent energy efficient. The process has very low Btu requirements, due to the short residence times of materials at each stage and to the holding of water under pressure. In addition, it generates its own energy, utilizes recycled water throughout, and uses the steam naturally created by the process to heat incoming feedstock, thereby recapturing expended energy. In addition, TDP produces no uncontrollable emissions and no secondary hazardous waste streams. “This project and the work that Changing World Technologies is doing in Philadelphia will revolutionize the way we deal with waste products on a broad commercial scale, the production of energy, and the reduction or elimination of waste by-products which enhances economic development … improving air quality, our quality of life as well as our environment,” said Denise Chamberlain, former Deputy Secretary for Air, Recycling & Radiation Protection for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. To test and refine the technology, CWT established a Research & Development plant at the Philadelphia (Pennsylvania) Naval Yard in partnership with the Gas Research Institute, which opened in December 1999. There the company successfully applied its thermal conversion process to a range of feedstocks, including animal waste, tires, mixed plastics and paper. “If the technology is successful, it could offer enormous opportunities to address farm waste problems in the Midwest. It could be applied to all sorts of other wastes. This looks extremely positive,” said William Rice, EPA Acting Regional Administrator.
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