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View Diary: Breaking: Bubbling ... the news isn't good (294 comments)

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  •  I think that the main problem is costs and (2+ / 0-)
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    A Siegel, maybeeso in michigan

    a volatile oil market.  Right now the plants are operating on relatively slim margins -- I've heard between $1 and $4 profit/barrel.  However, part of the costs comes from paying for the feedstock.  If we established these plants at, say, landfills, and diverted any incoming organic wastes to fuel the plants, that cost is eliminated and I think it could be more profitable.  (Of course, if we want to remain carbon-neutral, that means not using existing fossil-fuel derived plastics and such as a significant input.)  In fact, they could likely fund municipal waste removal programs, or at least not cost them anything.  Extra capacity, if there is any, could be filled by 'mining' the dumps.

    In any case, thermal depolymerization is why I'm not worrying too much about peak oil -- if TD starts being adopted.  We can make our own, along with the various products which are made out of oil, like plastics.  Large scale use of plastics derived from thermal depolymerization in things like building materials and insulation -- things which are seldom thrown out -- could actually be better for the environment, serving as net carbon sinks.

    •  Suggest you work the numbers ... (1+ / 0-)
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      maybeeso in michigan

      TD (and other energy paths using opportunistic feedstocks) can ameliorate the liquid fuel challenge while reducing pollution. How do you get them to, lets say, 50 million barrels / day by 2025?  I am not sure, by the way, that the feedstocks are there.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 08:25:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The feedstocks can be there... (2+ / 0-)
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        maybeeso in michigan, A Siegel

        ...Though I agree, right now, there might be a problem in providing enough green feedstocks not derived from fossil fuels to meet carbon neutrality.  However, the advantage of this proces is that you can use virtually anything as a feedstock.  Yard waste, offal from animal slaughtering, food waste, sewage, animal wastes, agricultural wastes, medical wastes -- all of these are 'green' for our purposes in that they'll yield a carbon-neutral fuel.  If I were in charge I'd allow a percentage of fossil feedstocks that would be reduced over time.

        Feedstock demand could be filled by planting large swathes of plant material to be harvested as feedstock.  The best planted feedstocks would grow quickly and deplete the soil minimally or enrich it, don't require much protection against insect and disease threats, and the more oil or wax content in the resultant material, the better.  Hemp would actually be close to ideal here, as it can be grown in rotation nitrogen-fixing crops without depleting the soil, grows quickly and puts on a lot of mass, and contains a lot of oil and complex carbohydrates in the seeds which helps bump up the amount of fuel oil you get as opposed to natural gas.

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