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THE Thermal Depolymerization Thread (merged)

Discussions of conventional and alternative energy production technologies.

Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby Ludi » Mon 12 Jan 2009, 20:20:20

TomSaidak wrote: I am not arguing that chemical fertilizers do not have problems. I just have trouble understanding why. I can think of no technical problem that can't be solved.


The main problems with chemical fertilizers is that they do nothing to improve the tilth of the soil, and they do not enable the soil to hold water and nutrients the way humus does. Chemical fertilizers do not contribute to humus formation. Humus is needed (vital) in the soil to hold nutrients and water. If there is not sufficient humus in the soil, nutrients including added fertilizers run off into the watershed, causing damage such as the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Soil without humus is essentially sterile, dead.

Soil science is such a large and important topic I would encourage you to learn more about it if you are interested in the ideas you're attempting to discuss here.

humus
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby TomSaidak » Mon 12 Jan 2009, 22:05:22

Ludi wrote:
"bo" weevil!


Ah fus' larned 'bout them bo weavils when Ah dun liv'd in duh South. Ya'll wants some spellin' - getcha one'o'them durn yankees!!

Seriously, how the @$##@ do you spell it??

Okay, read your post about humus. As per that post, manure is not a great humus additive by itself either, though it beats chemical fertilizers as currently done. Can you hang for a discussion on possible solutions? It will involve math. If you can get me numbers or steer me to numbers, I will faithfully, albeit slowly, pump out numbers.

Thanks!

P.S. If you say yes, I promise to do my best to keep all TDP plants downwind from you...... [smilie=happy6.gif]
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby Ludi » Tue 13 Jan 2009, 18:52:16

It's "boll weevil" :)

http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/bimg198.html


It's true manure may not be the best source of humus, and too much manure is not good for the soil, especially feedlot manure, which is typically too high in salts. But feedlots aren't sustainable. We can't base a sustainable future on unsustainable practices.

Good sources of humus in the soil are grass, leaves, and plant roots. These need to be grown at the point of use, not carted around the country.

Let me know what numbers you're looking for and I'll try to get them for you.
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby dohboi » Tue 13 Jan 2009, 19:27:39

What ludi said.

And as to:

"Not putting into top soil is killing freshwater fish ecosystems. Not putting it into soil is creating NOX. Not putting it into the soil properly is creating NOX and killing fish ecosystems. Not putting it into soil is creating methane."

It is the over production of sh*t that is causing all this. All most none of it is necessary for a healthy society or healthy people or healthy land.

The faster we move a way from mass consumption of meat, the better of we all will be. When we get back to meat being a special treat for some rather then a constant staple for all, health of individuals will improve, and manure will return to being a prized soil amendment rather than a huge threat to ecosystems.

Technical fidgeting may make some people a lot of money, which I assume is why you're in it, but please don't come here saying it is any kind of real solution to any kind of real problem. It just won't wash with this crowd (by and large).
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby Ludi » Tue 13 Jan 2009, 19:47:30

dohboi wrote:It is the over production of sh*t that is causing all this. All most none of it is necessary for a healthy society or healthy people or healthy land.


100% agree.

We need to stop these destructive practices, not perpetuate them.
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby TomSaidak » Tue 13 Jan 2009, 22:13:42

Ludi Wrote and Others Echo'd....

It's true manure may not be the best source of humus, and too much manure is not good for the soil, especially feedlot manure, which is typically too high in salts. But feedlots aren't sustainable. We can't base a sustainable future on unsustainable practices.

Sit down. Brace yourselves. Swallow any fluids currently in your mouth......

I agree. In fact from a TDP POV, freeing acres from feeding cows would actually allow TDP to get closer to 100% of US oil consumption. I can get better numbers from the use of kenaf then I can from manure. Please keep in mind these numbers should be considered PRELIMINARY, and NOT taken as solid.
Per Georgia University, an acre of kenaf grown in Georgia gets 14.78 mmbtu, at just under 7 tons of kenaf per acre. Verifification has to do with how they got their numbers, including what level "dry" their kenaf is and was that based on irrigated or unirrigated acreage. Based on those numbers, taking cows and pigs off the soy and corn diet would result in TDP potential peaking at 58%, and to fill the deficit drilled oil could drop 35%. This assumes life in a PHEV/BEV world...

Some of the hummus problem I frankly do not understand. My grandfather owned a 26 acre vineyard in Calistoga. He encouraged the growth of a plant we call mustard. I do not see that happening with corn crops. Why?

Ludi - a short answer to your question....
Manure has volume, but not the right chemistry. Fertilizers from NG have the right chemistry, but not the right volume. The numbers I am looking for are probably volumetric. As you may have noticed, I tend to like numbers.... How much root volume? What other volumes involved? How much soil needs to be replaced per year due to erosion? One problem with NG fertilizers is the time release issue. It looks like one problem is that just dumping phosphate on soil burns biologicals. That sounds like too fast a release. How fast is too fast? What numbers are there for soil compaction? Numbers per acre would be preferred. As corn is the worst offender, numbers for that would be best.

Thanks for the offer Ludi ;)
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby kublikhan » Wed 14 Jan 2009, 20:28:20

TomSaidak wrote:freeing acres from feeding cows would actually allow TDP to get closer to 100% of US oil consumption. I can get better numbers from the use of kenaf then I can from manure.
So you are arguing for the US to give up eating meat?
The oil barrel is half-full.
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby Ludi » Wed 14 Jan 2009, 21:21:14

TomSaidak wrote:How much root volume? What other volumes involved? How much soil needs to be replaced per year due to erosion? One problem with NG fertilizers is the time release issue. It looks like one problem is that just dumping phosphate on soil burns biologicals. That sounds like too fast a release. How fast is too fast? What numbers are there for soil compaction? Numbers per acre would be preferred. As corn is the worst offender, numbers for that would be best.


Some of your questions are a little vague, so I'll try to give you some numbers based on what I think you want to know, and if you need more, just ask..

Humus in healthy soil, by volume: 12%
Organic materials, including humus and roots and other biota: 20 - 40%
Pore space and gases: 35- 50%
Minerals: 10 - 30%
Water: 10%

reference: Chapter 8, page 200 "Permaculture: a designers manual" Bill Mollison

Phosphorus and potassium in rock form last 3- 5 years (P), 10 years (K)

reference: Chapter 5, pp 47-48, "Grow More Vegetables" John Jeavons


Here's a link to a discussion of the effects of different methods of growing corn on soil erosion: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/eng ... 95-089.htm
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby TomSaidak » Fri 16 Jan 2009, 20:28:38

Ludi Wrote:

A lot.....


Thanks. That was excellent primer material. If you all haven't figured it out by now, I am more a "physics" type then a biosciences type by nature.

I have my starting figures, 15 tons per hectare = 1 mm.

I am open to suggestions, but it seems like I need to start a new thread - I need farming types to help find answers about basic questions. I thought the most intriguing info was about rock forms of phosphates and potassium. That would go to my point about soil absorption of nutrients. This would suggest that manure is also a lousy fertilizer with 163 bushels per acre corn as target, as opposed to 16 bushels per acre.

As for TDP....
Am going to hopefully get some numbers together this weekend and post an initial spreadsheet and conclusions for TDP. I initially thought this would be and in and out for establishing TDP baselines and policies for the oil/transportation leg, and then I would move on to electrical. I am beginning to think that this is going to go into extra rounds, as electrical policy will also be an important determining factor. IF algae or some other microbial plant is going to be effective, it will need a water supply. So will be going round and round a bit to nail down a viable pathway.
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby TomSaidak » Fri 16 Jan 2009, 20:37:51

Kublikhan wrote:

So you are arguing for the US to give up eating meat?


No. I rather let the numbers argue for themselves. Ultimately, TDP numbers come down to competing interests. IF it is more important to recycle paper then produce oil, then TDP cannot use that for a feedstock. It is a choice. IF we used 100% of cow manure for fertilization, then TDP cannot use that for a feedstock. IF we can fix problems with NG based fertilizer, then TDP feedstock from cow manure doubles. Hence my sig ;)...
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby TomSaidak » Sat 31 Jan 2009, 14:59:21

Sorry for the delay, but I had to wait for some people to get back to me with answers regarding kenaf.

Is TDP THE answer? No.
Can it be used as PART of an answer? YES.

The issues around TDP mostly circle around feedstock. It comes down to a choice of how to use materials. Recycle plastic, don’t recycle glass and fill up landfills or convert plastic, recycle glass and really push on using glass, not plastic. You can find good arguments in either direction. Either way it is a choice.

Some of the apprehension around CDP/TDP cycle around the 10:1 Green Revolution ratio. We do NOT eat oil. We use it to move food, mill, till, plow, butcher, refrigerate, cool etc. A lot of the energy in that is NOT from oil but NG and electricity. A significant part of that energy budget is transportation. Someone on this board pointed out the aggriculural transportation budget for oil was 16% of US consumption. I was watching the Discovery Channel, and they pointed out the one area in transportation that has not changed in like 30 years was the 5 wheeler truck. Shifting just the SHAPE of the cabin to something a lot more aerodynamic could cut fuel consumption by up to 50%. That alone would drop US oil consumption rates by up to 13%. Electrifying trains could get us another 3% or so.
Ludi –
I have read up more on the soil and fertilization issue. Upshot, manure isn’t the big solution. Nor is our current way of fertilizing. The hint in that is your figures on rock forms of fertilizing. I read up on erosion, and it comes down to a number of issues, most of them solvable by changing the way we plow, and what we do with the left over parts of the plants. The last big technical hurdle is waste dirt and runoff. If we change how we fertilize (use long lasting solids that get disked into the soil), we can even solve SOME of that problem. Adding a reverse moat (so it collects run off) would go a long way to solve the last bit of the problem by providing a controlled collection point for dirt. Finally, we need a way to condition waste dirt so it can be reintroduced in far away places in a manner that does NOT cause an ecological disaster. Another easy fix is only allow free range cattle. That will drop the need for soy by 95% and corn by about 60%. Of course the numbers there are a bit shaky as I do not know how much of that goes to pigs. That would also help drop our Green Revolution ratio to 9:1 or so.

Back to CDP/TDP…. As part of the solution, it has to be part of a larger strategy. As strategies are added, CDP/TDP becomes a larger part of the solution.
C/TDP
Contribution---Strategy
19.2% ----No change in vehicles, no kenaf, no manure
28.46%---Kenaf used as feedstock, no manure, no change in vehicles
39.28%----No change in vehicles, manure and kenaf used as feedstock.
38.19%----PHEV/BEV mandated, no manure or kenaf feedstock.
47.44%----PHEV/BEV mandated, kenaf used as feedstock, no manure.
65.47%---PHEV/BEV mandated, kenaf and manure used as feedstock.
78.5%----PHEV/BEV and change in 5 Wheelers mandated, kenaf and manure used as feedstock.

One note on kenaf, CWT states that they will be testing how there process works on cellulose. MY figures are based on a straight BTU conversion. CWT figures are supposed to be released later this year.

Anyhoo….. AS the table above indicates, C/TDP can be anything from minor player to a major player depending on what else happens in the world. At this point I would strongly advocate the widespread use of C/TDP. The numbers can be much higher if we do NOT use feedstock for electricity as there are other ways to make electricity.
AS for the economics, cost to build CDP plants to cover the above percentages would be $440 Billion. Compared to $5 Trillion for oil exploration just for US share of world oil consumption, that is 10 times cheaper. This would fix oil at or about $100/bbl equivalent, all of it at adding to US GDP, and NOT our trade deficit. Currently, TDP oil gets the $42.00/BBL tax credit that other biofuels enjoy, which will bring down the price to $58.00/bbl equivalent. The big problem will be as the US stops importing oil, thus dropping demand, oil prices will likely drop, leading the “angry villagers” to question whether “this trip is worth it.” The counterweight will be the improvement in the US economy as our trade deficit drops and we create a domestic industry with revenues of $300 Billion annually.
Just you wait, ‘Enry ‘Iggins, Just you wait…….
Failure to adopt waste and or biodiesel policies will not lead to a US collapse. The US at worst will have a bad 10 years as we shift from imported oil to coal derived oil and increase drilling. Global warming and air pollution will be the big threats. Not peak oil. Nazi Germany fought WWII on synthetic oil, and did not lose the war for lack of oil.
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Re: thermal depolymerization a end to peak oil?

Unread postby TomSaidak » Sat 31 Jan 2009, 17:49:59

I wasn't gone, I was lurking and thinking ;). I hit epiphany as to HOW to organize stuff this morning. Also, RL has been a [email protected]#[email protected] In the last two weeks, my wife has gone to a funeral, and is getting a biopsy on Monday for lymphoma. Plus I started a long term sub gig teaching ELA full time, which I have never done before. Since last July, life has not been either stellar or kind in our household.....

Interesting question, and I am pondering how to answer. I figure neither one of us is really a chemist or a physicist.......

Methane from poop has been around a long time. I remember getting a book on "how to" energy independance back in '79, and lots of chapters were devoted to the straight poop on poop. Human manure is the least energetic, cow manure is fairly energetic, and pigs practically poop energy. Just google the BTU ratings. Sewage to energy is more about sewage to safe manure then sewage to energy. By converting some small fraction of the sewage to methane, the sewage becomes "treated" as in safe to either release or use as fertilizer. The part about the methane is that properly done, your EROI is about 0, i.e., you don't have to buy power to heat and manage the conversion process. Done really well, you can sell some electricity back to the grid. No real hoodoo there ( or should that be hoopoo??).

Okay, taking that sewage sludge even after methane production, you have a LOT of long chain carbohydrates/hydrocarbons molecules, such as proteins and DNA. C/TDP BREAKS up those chains into SHORT molecular chains. Long molecular chains we call things like meat, vegetable oil or plastic. Short molecular chains we call things like naptha, gasoline, kerosene or diesel. TDP literally does this by 'cooking' the feedstock. When you cook meat, the reason the flavor changes is that you are "denaturing" the proteins. C/TDP "denatures" the long chains into short chains.
Two other places you can see this - fire and sugar. If you burn a log, you are starting a complicated situation that works likes this...
Wood does NOT burn directly. According to a UK fire department documentary, when wood gets heated enough, the wood "denatures" into short chains that are released as a plasma, which interacts with oxygen to produce the flame you see.
A 2nd way you can see this is with sugar and sulfuric acid. Take some table sugar (long chains) and add a little sulfuric acid. The sugar "denatures", produces carbon, a big stink, and LOTS of heat. IF you ever try this at home - read up on it first for safety guidelines and amounts. This is a VERY energetic (exothermic) reaction.

As for being hairbraned, keep in mind I am in no danger of going bald......... [smilie=qgreenjumpers.gif]
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RES closes Carthage plant

Unread postby Pops » Thu 05 Mar 2009, 20:05:43

http://www.canadianbusiness.com/markets ... =D96NG8JG1

This is not a good thing overall I think. Perhaps the right plan at the right time in the wrong place?

Maybe premature depolymerization?
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Re: RES closes Carthage plant

Unread postby aahala2 » Fri 06 Mar 2009, 11:52:47

From the numbers in the article, it appears the plant
was able to generation losses in excess of $2 million
per employee and in less than five years since the plant
opened.

Who do they think they are? GM?

My cost savings idea for any such future plant is to
hire the employees, pay them $300,000 a year until
you run out of money and not build the plant at all.
Much cheaper.
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Re: RES closes Carthage plant

Unread postby highlander » Fri 06 Mar 2009, 13:23:43

I thought they were taking the waste from a turkey rendering plant and attempting to make biodiesel from it. Where did you get your info Pstarr? Still 150 million pounds of turkey offal must smell awful.
I doubt it helps profitability when petrol diesel goes from 4.50/gal down to 2.50/gal. Very few people will pay $4 a gallon for locally produced fuel when they can buy the good imported variety for $2.50
The story is being repeated all through the alternative fuels sector. two years of cheap dino diesel will put almost all the biodiesel producers out of business. Will anyone be surprised when petrol based fuel jumps back up after the competition is crushed? I really doubt there will be another chance for alternative fuels. Big oil is sealing our fate with theirs.
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Re: RES closes Carthage plant

Unread postby Pops » Fri 06 Mar 2009, 13:59:33

As I remember Tyson had a bunch of ooy gooy turkey guts that were a liability and tried to turn them into an asset - not unlike hog farmers building methane digesters, almond hullers and egg ranchers getting together to make compost, etc..

Tyson, as the backer, wasn't trying to corner the market on fuel, save the world from PO, or any such cause, they were just trying to make more money. Most innovation has the same motive.

Considering the raw material was free, the balance sheet is probably worse than advertised. All in all it is too bad, industrial food is going to be around a while and any improvement in efficiency would be a good thing.

I could have some facts wrong if anyone cares to check.
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