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Trash-To-Fuel Process Validated By US Military

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the just-need-to-know-who-to-ask dept.

Power 64

An anonymous reader writes "After going through all kinds of grief, including being shut down by the Washington State Ecology Department, classifying them as an 'incinerator,' it looks like Green Power Inc is finally ready to shine. The Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines, in a joint effort, validated their technology in November, and the results are now being published for the first time. For every 100 tons of municipal solid waste feedstock processed each day, the plant produces 1240 gallons of Naphtha, 3700 gallons of Kerosene, 6900 gallons of Diesel and 3000 gallons of Fuel Oil. And even the ash can be used for cement or asphalt. They generate 1 MW of electricity to sell to the grid 24/7, running three shifts per day to keep the plant going, employing approximately five people per shift. Sticker price is $25 million. ROI, 3.5 years. Maybe with this announcement, the trend of no sales in the US will change, compared to the 72 foreign contracts backed by letters of credit."

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64 comments

what about... (0, Flamebait)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198290)

...taking their chemical weapon off of the bottom of the Atlantic, for a change: that's trash that needs to be properly disposed of...

The US Army is really a bunch of righteaous fucking rapists.

Does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198308)

I still have to sort my recycling?

Re:Does this mean... (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198900)

Single stream FTW!

Turning trash into things of value (0, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198312)

That's pretty much the whole point of the military.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (0, Flamebait)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198338)

That's pretty much the whole point of the military.

No, the whole point of the military is exactly the opposite.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198364)

That's pretty much the whole point of the military.

No, the whole point of the military is exactly the opposite.

Mod this guy down.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198574)

No the military is really there to turn things of value (that the other guy has) into trash. This is what warfare is.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198768)

The military is really there to turn the expensive things the arms manufacturers just sold you into trash, then sell you more.

A video game, but real. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31202460)

The military is also there because some people enjoy killing other people, like people enjoying violent video games.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204618)

Silly me, and I thought the whole purpose of our military was to invade someone else's country and take their shit claiming rightful ownership .. those local inhabitants being merely squatters on resources belonging to us.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31208232)

Fuck you. The military's entire point is to destroy things--property or lives. If you don't understand that, you're a moron of the first order. Go suck Republican dick, fuck-face.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201062)

Whoever modded this Flamebait never served in the military. Those of us who have know that the military's sole purpose is to kill people and break things. The fact that we, as a nation, have forgotten this important point is why we're failing so much at "nation building" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Let the military kill everyone in their way, then send in aid groups after to do the rebuilding. You wouldn't send the Peace Corps to blow up a bridge, why send the Army to build one?

Re:Turning trash into things of value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31202368)

My first job out of college was for a company that made water software. Specifically, the bridge has to sit on something, so tall pylons are placed in ground at the bottom of the river. The water rushing past has an effect (erosion) on this and tends to create a downward spiral along the pylon ... essentially the water is "digging up" the pylon. (Civil Engineers call it "scour".) If the water is strong enough (read enough volume and velocity) and your pylon is buried too shallow, then eventually it gets to the bottom and beneath your pylon. A bridge supported on a pylon supported on water instead of solid ground .. not good.

The main algorithms for figuring this stuff out comes from the US Army Corps of Engineers. We used their mathematical engines to power the application; we just made it look pretty for Civil Engineers who wanted to use Windows instead of the command line.

That's why I would send the Army to build a bridge.

Re:Turning trash into things of value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198860)

By modding the parent post down, you are disrespecting every serviceman who has been transformed by Basic Training.

But I wouldn't expect anything less from people who have no respect for the military in the first place.

Very nice (2)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198322)

If this is for real & doesn't have any game-breaking drawbacks down the road, this could go a long, long way to curing our energy dependence on other nations until we get our stuff together with more renewable power sources.

Re:Very nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198344)

Trash is the ultimate renewable resource. We are sure to only have more of it, despite any efforts.... for example, I know of a place in the pacific ocean that we can "mine" for trash for a VERY long time!

Re:Very nice (2)

angelwolf71885 (1181671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199590)

i would rather " mine " municable land fills when we run out of that THEN we can talk about forming a committee to look into a committee to see if theres a need for a committee to decide if we should " mine " plastic island international park :P

Re:Very nice (2)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198354)

Yeah. It is for real. The tech has been around for at least 5 years that I know of, probably longer. There aren't any real drawbacks except that you are producing more greenhouse gasses in the end. I don't know if we produce enough bio-waste to generate fuel for all of our gas guzzling needs, but it should go a long, long way if utilized to making some of our problems better.

Re:Very nice (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198426)

If nothing else it will help cut down on the size of our landfills. Plant large amounts of trees in the space that would have been used, and bam...more atmosphere scrubbers on the ground.

Re:Very nice (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198476)

Is it just for biowaste? When they say trash I think landfills & not sewage & old food.

Re:Very nice (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200156)

Food accounts for much more than you would think [wasteage.com] of landfill contents (and those are the most conservative numbers I've found; others claim up to 27%). (And if I recall correctly from prior arguments, this system is not at all limited to biowaste; think rubbers, plastics, and the like).

I stated this poorly... (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200340)

Perhaps better put as:

The system is not at all limited to what one initially thinks of as biowaste; things made from plant materials (including ancient forests, through the intermediate step of being oil) are still organic. :)

Re:I stated this poorly... (1)

someSnarkyBastard (1521235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203952)

[pedant] Technically speaking, you are referring to coal with the ancient trees reference, oil comes from dead plankton. obligatory Wikipedia link [wikipedia.org] [/pedant]

Re:Very nice (1)

Shatteredstar (1722136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202584)

I have to agree, the whole concept can do great things and I look forward to the tech and methods being refined further.

Imagine landfills disappearing more and more while our fuel issues are eased and removed.

Now if we just get the little fusion thing from Back to the Future. Some banana peels and other trash and flying car!

Re:Very nice (1)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 4 years ago | (#31205050)

I've been watching this technology, and resulting company for several years now. This is real!

This is very cool stuff. It takes average refuse that would go to a landfill, cooks it down into diesel fuel and fertilizer. It is completely self contained. It releases nothing into the environment. Generates it's own power and then some.

The up side here is that the military has finally taken notice. Maybe something good will become of it after all.

I seriously urge everyone out there to call your congress critter and urge them to pull the oil corporate dick from their mouths and allow this technology to be expanded and built on a national level. It would release us from our addiction to foreign fossil fuel reserves and stop us from financing terrorist sponsoring nations.

Check it out
http://www.cleanenergyprojects.com/

Naptha & oils !? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198356)

It's a Napalm factory ! No wonder the military love it !

Re:Naptha & oils !? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198780)

Napalm? Dang. When I read it the first time I thought it said naquadah, and was like daaaamn that stuff can power black holes! The energy crisis is over!

Naptha (1)

TheTrollToll (1545539) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198358)

Great! Just what I've been asking for more Naphtha!

Re:Naptha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199582)

It'll make mothballing the technology easier.

FTFS (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198366)

Sticker price is $25 million. ROI, 3.5 years.

Only $25 Million? Dude. If this process really works as well as they are reporting, this is a HUGE deal. Think of the implications of setting up these facilities in multiple parts of the country.

This won't solve our energy or trash problems, but it could put a sizeable dent in both. Huzzah!

Nice numbers. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198374)

No wonder the return on investment of this $25 million dollar plant is estimated to be in just over three and a half years, after which it is pure profit -....

That's a bit of an exaggeration. There's personnel, insurance, maintenance, etc....

They look like nice numbers but I'd have to sit down and look at them real close with an auditor.

If it sounds too good. to be true... (2, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198410)

... it probably isn't. This guy is a snake oil salesman [tradingmarkets.com] .

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (4, Funny)

jweller (926629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198988)

and your point is?

Snake oil is a great source of renewable energy. I've converted my diesel rabbit to run on snake oil.

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201078)

I've converted my diesel rabbit to run on snake oil.

Gotta love the irony in that one!

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31202336)

Most rabbits are herbivores. Does yours have long, sharp, nasty teeth?

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (5, Informative)

ladadadada (454328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199186)

I didn't see anything in that link to indicate that he is a snake oil salesman. There were certainly plenty of concerning allegations, but none of them alleged that he has sold them a product that didn't work. Most of them are regarding his failure to pay bills. The article mentioned the same thing, after mentioning that the reporter was a personal friend of the CEO. It all looks to me like he's a genuine guy with a decent product and bad business sense. I think I would have waited to see the results published by the third party before running this on Slashdot. The results linked from the site are actually hosted on its sister site, both of which are funded by Michael Spitzauer and don't look to be published by the US Military at all.

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (1)

cenc (1310167) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199552)

Sounds like a guy that does not have sufficient biz experience to even know that he should be filing for bankruptcy, but instead leaves a mess of law suits everywhere he goes.

Not exactly where anyone would be inclined to park their venture capital. If I had the money and really thought the technology they are pushing was unique and viable, I would be more inclined to buy out the intellectual property and such rather than buy someone else's legal headache, bad debts, broken contracts, and so on. What would be in the company for an investor?

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199514)

This is too good to be true. This failed horribly and left investors high and dry 4 years ago in the southern USA. This free publicity will ensure new investors are duped.

Re:If it sounds too good. to be true... (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202036)

So you're saying the military are incompetent idiots and that the technology *doesn't* actually work? That, while they claimed to have validated the technology, they actually didn't? Do you have a source for these allegations?

Other companies are also working on this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198462)

The one I know also focuses on stuff like straw and manure/sewer waste, it's advantageous for wet waste that can't go into power plants (some places burn garbage for electricity/district heating). Much of the fertilizer value (nitrates, phosphates) stays in the water phase, you can cycle this back into agriculture in order not to deprive your fields long term. Definitely has potential, especially if it's as cheap as they say.

Re:Other companies are also working on this (1)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201740)

Interestingly, this is the first company I've heard of working on depolymerization instead of plasma gasification.

3rd party results? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198532)

I want to see the actual reports from the military. The "3rd party results" on the article have Green Power Inc stamped all over them. Until I see those results, I'm skeptical.

check out the website (1)

shanmuha (668499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198548)

The website of Green Power Inc. seems quite dodgy - http://cleanenergyprojects.com/ [cleanenergyprojects.com] . Now, that can be either a very good sign or a very very very bad sign. It reminds me of the website of the Atom chip corporation(http://atomchip.com/) with their quantum optical processors.

Re:check out the website (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198868)

That website actually looks pretty good to me for a little known industrial type company. I've seen _far_ worse from very legitimate companies.

Cool Stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31198742)

How long before we can integrate this into our De Loreans with a "Mr. Fusion" recycling unit?

Exactly who in DoD? (2, Interesting)

gnieboer (1272482) | more than 4 years ago | (#31198980)

Like others here, I'm not convinced. DoD is a very big place, and to say that was a 'joint' validation is odd... who was this joint organization who specializes in trash recycling within DoD? Probably one exists someplace (next to the agency researching favorite alien ice cream flavours), but what's telling is that the article doesn't mention who they are.

And the 'link' referred to doesn't have any mention of DoD in it either. Since the PDF has PES watermarks and was authored by Word 2010 (which the DoD won't be using), it's 99% likely it's not a 3rd party document. I suppose it might be based on a 3rd party report, but why not just include the test report? A government test report like this should be public info.

Whats the catch? (1)

phoenixdna (936728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199158)

(from the article)
> So far, all of his 72 contracts are foreign, guaranteed by letters of credit. None in the U.S. yet. What does that say?

I think it probably says that there is something we don't know about that prospective buyers do know about. If no one in the US wants this, then there is a reason for it. At first glance, this seems like a great advancement. Who wouldn't want to turn all their garbage into profit? That seems like a no brainer to me. So if we set up a few thousand of these, then we convert most of our waste into free fuel. Awesome! Its Back To The Future. All we need next are intelligent pants and shoes that shrink to fit and a cool hover board that glides in mid air. I'm not trying to be doom and gloom here, but I'm just betting that there is more to this story that we don't know about. I hope I am wrong, however, and that this ends up being exactly what it appears to be. If thats the case, then I hope we see more of these in the US.

Re:Whats the catch? (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204326)

Yep. That's how we know that nuclear is bad.

Mr Fusion, Finally!!! (1)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199274)

Maybe Doc Brown just got the name wrong?!

This sounds like an interesting idea to me.

W00T 7p! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31199318)

users of BSD/OS. A of Jordan Hubbard community at not so bad. To the

Amazingly efficient... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31199622)

So I go to this site [convert-me.com] , and I get these conversions:

Naptha; 1,200 Gal = 6,900 lbs
Kerosene; 3,700 Gal = 25,000 lbs
Diesel (as fuel Oil); 6,900 Gal = 51,000 lbs
Fuel Oil; 3,00 Gal = 23,000 lbs

Total: 168,000 pounds; 84 tons.

84% efficiency. Not counting the ash.

Or not.

Like how I comma everything? Metric is overrated...

Re:Amazingly efficient... (2, Insightful)

Your Pal Dave (33229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200170)

It gets worse if you do an energy balance:
According to the DOE (Table 1) [doe.gov] , municipal waste contains less than 12e6 BTU/Ton, so your 100 TPD waste stream will contain 1.2 E9 BTU tops.

Disregarding electrical output:

Naptha; 1,240 Gal @118700 BTU/Gal = 1.47E8 BTU
Kerosene: 3400 Gal @134000 BTU/Gal = 4.56E8 BTU
Diesel: 6900 Gal @129500 BTU/Gal = 8.94E8 BTU
Fuel Oil: 3000 Gal @145000 BTU/Gal = 4.35E8 BTU
Total Output: 1.93E9 BTU

So, either they have some energy input they're not telling us about, or it's a scam.

Re:Amazingly efficient... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200252)

Well, it was described as an incinerator, so the energy input is probably thermal, part of the thermal degradation they are using.

It may be that getting ANYTHING out of trash is a bargain. But once again, overstating your results to make 'green' not just good but profitable is a loser, and it causes us common folk to be suspicious of these claims, and we start to doubt the science. Next thing you know, we want proofs.

That's bad, right? We should just trust those people... Right?

Re:Amazingly efficient... (2, Informative)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31200650)

If there is an additional energy input, and if that input is highly efficient, I'm ok with the energy balance. If we consider the trash to be thrown away (ah, love what I did there...) then it's energetically lost. That means for an additional energetic input of 8E8 BTU (I rounded up for high-but-not-perfect efficiency), we get fuel worth 19E8 (scaled to matching exponents). There's something to that sort of process - it's like having a huge interest rate savings account.

And let's remember that converting crude oil into fuel forms requires energy inputs (hydrocarbon cracking, etc.) - but the energetic 'loss' is worth it to us since we get a portable energy source with more energetic value than we spent (ignoring the intrinsic energy from the fuel oil, which =0 to us in terms of utility until after processing.) As long as we break even (or better) in terms of processing energy input vs. energy of the fuel output, we lose nothing we haven't (literally) already thrown away.

If, of course, their information is otherwise complete and not overstated, and if the energy input is efficient enough to break even or better.

Re:Amazingly efficient... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31200682)

Assuming that cardboard and paper is 'biogenic waste', this seems easily explained: The fuel input used was 100% biogenic, while ordinary municipal waste is only 56%. Provided that the biogenic component contains most of the recoverable energy, the numbers are close. Of course, this is based on using "the type of ordinary municipal waste that is pure wood, paper and pure-carbon plastics"..

Re:Amazingly efficient... (1)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31203538)

Alas it's worse.

http://pesn.com/2010/02/19/959019_GPI_3rd-party_test_results_trash-to-fuel/material-energy%20balance%202010.pdf [pesn.com]

Right.
Test results. Okaaaay.

          Inputs totalling 2,257,710.0000 MJ.

          Total output from distillation column 2,257,710.0000 MJ

Run away, run far away!

These are not test results.

These are at best numbers from someone who has taken a wild stab at a reasonable output for the maximum theoretical output of an _ENERGY_CONSUMING_ process, and someone else who has done a writeup based on these numbers at best not understanding this, at worst fraudulently.

These are _HOPELESSLY_ optimistic. It's assuming 100% of the carbon is converted into useful fuel oil.

Many big 'if's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31200520)

Firstly, there is no unaffiliated source for the claim of US DoD involvement. Secondly, the report is clearly not written by the DoD.

Thirdly, the input waste seems prescreened - consisting mostly of paper and cardboard, some paper waste, plastic waste with no elements except carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and zero metals or glass.

If you are doing catalytic conversion, this is the waste that is perfect. There is nothing surprising per se for being able to convert a wooden log into oil. Competing uses at the moment are for heating (e.g. wood burning) and recyling of paper. If you already _have_ your waste sorted like this, it should be really easy to incinerate cleanly or to recycle. In any case it means that this isnt' for converting _existing_ landfills. Claims about eliminating CO2 are uncertain, because this would only be able to use already-sorted material which already is recycled, and hence an increase in the amount of paper turned into oil, would mean a reduction in the amount turned into new paper, meaning more new paper needed.

My main question would be how it would be affected by tiny amounts of noncarbon elements like glass, metals, chlorine from PVC, and other crap which forms from imperfect sorting of municipal waste. I have a sneaking suspicion that glass particles in your jet fuel will be a problem.

Of course, this would be fantastic IF close to perfect sorting CAN be done and IF trace amounts of noncarbon elements are acceptable and IF once you have done this it's a more efficient method than either paper recycling or electricity through combustion. If those ifs line up, here's to the next superstar. Being a suspicious person I suspect that the reason a large chemicals company hasn't patended it already is because they don't.

Go USA! (1)

517714 (762276) | more than 4 years ago | (#31201290)

So far, all of his 72 contracts are foreign, guaranteed by letters of credit. None in the U.S. yet. What does that say?

Americans are not the stupidiest people on the planet?

Unknowable Inputs (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202014)

It sounds great and all, but show me a municipal waste stream that doesn't have things it shouldn't have (tube tvs with lead and mercury or even just flourescent light bulbs). Maybe they weed all the bad stuff (they can know about) before hand, but that surely isn't a cost-free undertaking.

Return on Investment (2, Insightful)

glodime (1015179) | more than 4 years ago | (#31202032)

From the article:

...the return on investment of this $25 million dollar plant is estimated to be in just over three and a half years...

Beware of the salesman that quotes a Return on Investment in terms of time.

Mass genocide finally becomes profitable (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204416)

So it sounds like this technology could convert human corpses into energy. I'm not saying the US military would use it in that manner but perhaps china would find it useful? Makes me wonder what Hitler might have to say about this development if he was still alive...

Garbage (1)

RedTeflon (1695836) | more than 4 years ago | (#31204648)

Garbage! This post is just trash

And they said the millitary can't be in harmony... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31206012)

...with the cycles of life...

Yeah baby!

Sure, it’s not perfect. But the fact that it instantly reminds me of natural cycles (which are very efficient), where nothing is wasted, is a sure sign that this is a good thing.

We need more like this!

So the US military has just validated Mr. Fusion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207462)

Dr. Emmett Brown would be proud.

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