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Trash-To-Gas Power Plant Gets Greenlight

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the smell-of-power dept.

Power 113

An anonymous reader writes "Beginning in a little more than a week, Green Power, Inc. of Pasco, Washington will be commencing the building of municipal-solid-waste-to-fuel plants for clients around the world, with $2 billion in contracts; now that an EPA ruling has exonerated GPI from an unnecessary shut-down order by the Washington Ecology Department last year. This fuel would be of higher quality and cheaper than fuel derived from crude oil — and it comes from local feedstock, while turning waste into energy. Now your laptop can turn into a quart of diesel fuel to power your trip to the dump. And the ocean gyres of trash the size of Texas can power Texas. This is an update on a Slashdot story from nine months ago.

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Texas Trash (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300256)

I thought that Texas was an ocean of white trash the size of Texas.

Re:Texas Trash (0, Offtopic)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300538)

Almost, but its not white anymore.

Can't resist... (2, Funny)

cfc-12 (1195347) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300268)

First (com)post!

Re:Can't resist... (1)

Bai jie (653604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300370)

This is great! Slashdot is a bastion of recycled news, now we can use this old news to power our PCs while we read old news! We've done it folks, we've created Perpetual Energy!

Make like a Tree and Leave (4, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300272)

During early winter our yard has an almost 6-inch layer of leaves. If a service would scoop them up and take them away for free, they could use them for fuel. It would benefit 3 parties: us (leaf removal), the leaf processing company, and The Planet.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300292)

Contact your municipality with this idea. The city I live in does this. I don't know what they do with the leaves once they've taken them away, but it's likely they do something useful with them.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300440)

Possibly they get composted.

Most likely, yes (1)

Benfea (1365845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300502)

...and nature can recycle that stuff far more efficiently than we can.

Re:Most likely, yes (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300874)

...and nature can recycle that stuff far more efficiently than we can.

Exactly. If you don't have the room to compost all the leaves, you can mulch mow them in place and leave the fine mulch on the lawn and not have to fertilize next spring.

Re:Most likely, yes (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300950)

Can you put compost in your gas tank?

Re:Most likely, yes (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301004)

Yes but it will probably clog the gas line filter.

Re:Most likely, yes (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301724)

use metal piping through a compost bin to heat your home brew, heat exchange style.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300684)

Leaves taken from the street can't be composted because of contamination from other litter.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300860)

In residential areas where there are a lot of deciduous trees you tend not to have the inner city blowing trash.

There simply isn't that much contamination in the street, and composting breaks down virtually all of paper typically found.

You get the occasional plastic or aluminum, but these are easily blow-sorted out of leaves either before or after composting.

Clearly this won't work in trash strewn housing tracts, or inner city ghettos, but then those areas don't have significant leaf trees anyway.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

A. Bosch (858654) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302896)

My town composts them. My tax dollars at work, I'm happy to say.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (2, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300300)

During early winter our yard has an almost 6-inch layer of leaves. If a service would scoop them up and take them away for free, they could use them for fuel. It would benefit 3 parties: us (leaf removal), the leaf processing company, and The Planet.

Even simpler: set them on fire. As a bonus, you get your house heated.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301902)

During early winter our yard has an almost 6-inch layer of leaves. If a service would scoop them up and take them away for free, they could use them for fuel. It would benefit 3 parties: us (leaf removal), the leaf processing company, and The Planet.

Even simpler: set them on fire. As a bonus, you get your house heated.

And you will be warm for the rest of your life.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

catman (1412) | more than 3 years ago | (#34304206)

During early winter our yard has an almost 6-inch layer of leaves. If a service would scoop them up and take them away for free, they could use them for fuel. It would benefit 3 parties: us (leaf removal), the leaf processing company, and The Planet.

Even simpler: set them on fire. As a bonus, you get your house heated.

And you get to enjoy allergies, as well as torturing your allergic neighbours ... OTOH, municipal waste is incinerated in this town to provide hot water on a scale that allows thousands of oil-fired furnaces of all sizes to be shut down. This, plus scrubbing in the incinerators, improves air quality in the city.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (4, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300324)

Sounds like a great way to impoverish the soil even further. The trash burning I can sort of understand because a lot of these things do not degrade as easily and they take up a lot of volume. Plus a concrete and asphalt city could care less about soil conditions.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300726)

derp. if you keep the leaves, they'll kill the grass and the acorns/maple spinners will take root. then you have a forest, not a lawn.

is that what you want? grass does just fine if you chop it up with a lawnmower and leave the clippings.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301758)

If you keep the leaves, they'll kill the grass and the acorns/maple spinners will take root.

So mulch the leaves and use them to suppress winter weeds in your flower (or vegetable) beds. Nutrients recycled, lawn preserved.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303182)

Go back to 420chan with your ill-educated nonsense.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301314)

Sounds like a great way to impoverish the soil even further

He seemed to be talking about residential areas, where leaves are often thrown away anyway. Using the leaves for energy wouldn't hurt the soil, since they're already being carted off and dumped in plastic bags rather than rotting on the ground.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (3, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300498)

Make like a tree, and get out of here!!

Will this mean I can power my time machine with banana peals?

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (3, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300638)

Banana peals? How do you ring a banana?

Oh. [youtube.com]

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (2, Interesting)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300610)

Many municipalities run special garden composting services. You rake/pick up your garden waste/trimmings/whatever, put it in this giant paper bag, and they come by every few weeks and pick it up and turn it to compost. Which you can then buy back. And before you go yelling about them taking your stuff and selling it back to you, you -could- just compost it yourself. But you won't cause it's more work than you would like and smells bad. Which is precisely why they have to charge you for it.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300660)

you -could- just compost it yourself. But you won't cause it's more work than you would like and smells bad.

Except that it's trivially easy, and doesn't smell bad (or at all) if you do it right.
And doing it right is not very difficult.

Plus you get excellent free fertilizer (organic, even!) for your garden, trees or lawn.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302654)

you -could- just compost it yourself. But you won't cause it's more work than you would like and smells bad.

Except that it's trivially easy, and doesn't smell bad (or at all) if you do it right. And doing it right is not very difficult. Plus you get excellent free fertilizer (organic, even!) for your garden, trees or lawn.

Exactly. If your clippings are stinking up the area you're composting it wrong.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

catman (1412) | more than 3 years ago | (#34304246)

you -could- just compost it yourself. But you won't cause it's more work than you would like and smells bad.

Except that it's trivially easy, and doesn't smell bad (or at all) if you do it right. And doing it right is not very difficult. Plus you get excellent free fertilizer (organic, even!) for your garden, trees or lawn.

Exactly. If your clippings are stinking up the area you're composting it wrong.

And if your community has a pick-up service of this kind they will probably also give brief courses in home composting. When you really get into it, buy a hot-compost container for your food scraps and stop flushing them down the grinder into the sewage. Do the hot-compost right and it doesn't smell bad either.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301584)

Around here they don't charge for it. You just drive up, load up as much as you can carry, and drive away.

Or just leave 'em there. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300644)

That's why they call them "leaves".

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300740)

My city does this and composts the leaves for resale/use in city parks.

Re:Make like a Tree and Leave (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301804)

That would assuredly benefit you. It would only benefit the company if the money they made from the leaves was greater than the money spent collecting them (which could be tough). I won't speak on if it's good for the planet or not because I honestly don't know. The planet's gotten by for quite some time without leaf removal services, though.

Gyres (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300308)

The summary must be joking about the ocean gyres. Anyone who has ever read anything about them knows how incredibly diffuse they are (tiny particles for the most part) and how difficult recovery and transport operations would be.

Re:Gyres (2, Interesting)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300364)

Stupid Question: Could the trash from the ocean gyres be used to power the operations to remove trash from the ocean gyres?

Re:Gyres (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300436)

Those gyres [wikipedia.org] are not what you think they are.

Re:Gyres (3, Informative)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303198)

"The summary must be joking about the ocean gyres."

There are questions about the guy running this company, up here in Washington state.

http://www.seattlepi.com/local/6420ap_wa_pasco_biomass.html [seattlepi.com]

http://pesn.com/2009/08/07/9501560_CEO_appealing_GreenPowerInc_shut-down_order/ [pesn.com]

Some have voiced serious concerns that this is all snake-oil, primarily because the man hides behind "trade secrets" protection and doesn't really have to discuss how all this works(precisely the reason state regulators shut him down--they cannot really know if he is in compliance if they don't know what he is doing, and so far he hasn't told them). He has also failed to pay some of his employees yet claims he will be hiring up to 500 more employees even though the technical data suggests he only needs 5 people per shift, had the company's demonstration truck burn down, and according to the Seattle PI article, been evicted from his plant location.

The one curious thing is that the military tested his technology and actually published some hard numbers that to me seem rather impressive. Makes me wonder what sort of "garbage" went through his test plant.

  http://pesn.com/2010/02/19/959019_GPI_3rd-party_test_results_trash-to-fuel/ [pesn.com]

This is the best time-line I was able to find in regards to this company (not surprisingly, from the same website as the submitted article).

http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Green_Power_Inc's_NanoDiesel:Catalytic_Pressureless_Depolymerization_(Oiling) [peswiki.com]

At least the writer of the submitted article is up front--"Note: I have a relationship with GPI, so this report is not truly independent." says the caption accompanying the photo in the article.

Can you say "media blitz"?

Re:Gyres (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303258)

Sorry, the "military" involvement seems anything but--the link to the "military" results are just a PDF obviously assembled by the same company.

I see nothing from the military at all. I have no idea why he is claiming such a thing.

Simcity 3000 had them in simcity 4 liked to put th (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300360)

Sim city 3000 had them in sim city 4 I like to put them all in one city with lot's high pollution industry in there own city and just set up deals with the clean city.

Re:Simcity 3000 had them in simcity 4 liked to put (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301498)

Sim city 3000 had them in sim city 4 I like to put them all in one city with lot's high pollution industry in there own city and just set up deals with the clean city.

So basically you build a mini New Jersey?

But But (1, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300378)

Waste to Power Generators produce heavy polution. Even if they do create 5000mwh it is hardly ever worth building. Better to use a few city ordinances to keep waste managed. And then build a nuclear power plant, fucking 16,000mwh for only 40grand hell yes.

Re:But But (2, Insightful)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300566)

And technology never improves efficiency or performance from older methodologies...

Re:But But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301622)

Not when you are dealing with fundamental physical limits. A 747 flown in 1969 still flies at the same altitude, same speed with the same amount of passengers today. Do you understand why? It'll also never suddenly use orders of magnitude less enegy. Do you understand why?

Re:But But (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300594)

Waste to Power Generators produce heavy polution. Even if they do create 5000mwh it is hardly ever worth building. Better to use a few city ordinances to keep waste managed. And then build a nuclear power plant, fucking 16,000mwh for only 40grand hell yes.

Must be either too early in the morning or too late at night for you.

Heavy pollution? Exactly why? This (according to TFA) is a catalytic cracking system that appears to work on 'organic' (ie, hydrocarbon) waste. While I am sure that there are various and sundry heavy metals, annoyingly stable but biologically reactive chemicals and perhaps even the occasional radioactive compound in the organic waste, it doesn't appear like this process grinds up laptops and burns them.

And a 16 MW nuclear reactor for $40,000??? That's some really, really good stuff you're smoking there. No fair.

Re:But But (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300734)

The interesting thing is that Pasco boarders the Hanford Nuclear Reservation and Washington State's only nuclear power plant.

Re:But But (1)

Wyzard (110714) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300744)

The GP is a reference to powerplants in SimCity, not in the real world.

Re:But But (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301244)

Ahh, I knew it wasn't real.

Re:But But (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301626)

To be fair I don't think many people got it.

Re:But But (1)

illumastorm (172101) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300756)

Hey, all you have to do is call cousin Vinnie and say that I am weak and you will get that power plant for free.

Re:But But (2, Informative)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300764)

SimCity != Real Life.

But don't worry, nobody will have to work after fusion arrives in 2050, so you'll have some time to play then.

Re:But But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301526)

at the rate the world is going IRL, it won't make it to 2050.

Re:But But (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301048)

Whoosh.

Re:But But (1)

oiron (697563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302496)

Heavy pollution? Exactly why? This (according to TFA) is a catalytic cracking system that appears to work on 'organic' (ie, hydrocarbon) waste. While I am sure that there are various and sundry heavy metals, annoyingly stable but biologically reactive chemicals and perhaps even the occasional radioactive compound in the organic waste, it doesn't appear like this process grinds up laptops and burns them.

Well, I wonder what the energy cost of the conversion is: for any cracking of hydrocarbons, you need some energy input, and (in all probability) you'll end up losing some of the input mass to by-products. My questions with these kinds of "waste to energy" methods are,

  • What is the energy input, and the expected energy output? In other words, if you use 1 MW of power to produce 1 litre of gas, that's not a commercially viable option in the absence of subsidies at all.
  • What are the by-products of the reaction? One of the biggest problems with pyrolysis is that it produces dioxins and furans, which aren't the most agreeable compounds to have in your local atmosphere. That's why you'd even want to look at this type of method. But what are the byproducts of this method? Specifically, where do all the phosphorus, chlorine, sulphur and other friends in polymers (say PVC) go after cracking? And what's the composition of the output of the process?

Unfortunately, TFA doesn't have those details. In any case, converting organic (I mean plant/animal, not chemically organic) matter into fuel seems to me a massive waste of perfectly good compost.

founded in 2000, privately held, $2e9 by 2010 (1)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300380)

Who are these guys, really?

Re:founded in 2000, privately held, $2e9 by 2010 (-1, Troll)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300412)

CUNTS

Re:founded in 2000, privately held, $2e9 by 2010 (0, Troll)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300420)

Forgot to post AC?

Re:founded in 2000, privately held, $2e9 by 2010 (-1, Troll)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300426)

NIGGERS

Show some sensitivity to this poor person!!!!! (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300650)

Can't you tell he has Turrets Syndrome! Good God! Instead of showing compassion, you people mod him down showing complete lack of sensitivity to this poor person's handicap!

To show support, jesus-mother-fucking-christ-cunt-licking-homo-basterds!

Re:Show some sensitivity to this poor person!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300698)

"torrets" retard.

Re:Show some sensitivity to this poor person!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300784)

maybe he has a rotating gun syndrome. Turrets.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourette_syndrome

Lot's of fuel there. (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300434)

I grew up in central Washington and let me tell you, there is a lot of literal bullshit and cowshit there. I-82 from Yakima to the Tri-cities (Pasco is one) is a long line of stock yards and farms.

The odd thing is that the Tri-cities is the bedroom community for the only active nuke power plant in the state, Hanford.

Re:Lot's of fuel there. (1)

TimboJones (192691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34300844)

Except that those fuels are already being recycled into soil, then grass, then more cattle.

Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300472)

Where do they put the waste that's put to waste after they've wasted the waste?

Re:Waste (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301254)

They liquify it, then they drink it and get wasted.

Re:Waste (1)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301702)

Yo dawg! I heard you like waste......

mining landfills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34300482)

So once they are using the full daily production of municipal waste, are they going to start mining landfills? Garbage is our fastest-growing resource. Maybe one day soon I can start charging to have my garbage picked up, instead of paying for the service.

Shutdown? (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301032)

The story makes me curious as to why they were earlier ordered to shutdown. Anyone have the story behind that?

Re:Shutdown? (2, Informative)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301134)

From TFA: (yeah, yeah, I know)

In August of 2009, GPI was shut down by Washington state's Ecology Department who said GPI had "not provided adequate compliance with the environmental air quality regulations." This was cleared on September 8, 2010 by an EPA ruling that support's GPI's claim and reverses Washington state's Ecology Department's claim that placed the GPI process in the class of incinerators, which it is not.

According to the EPA:

Green Power describes its process as a proprietary catalytic pressure-less depolymerization process (CDP) where municipal solid waste or a wide variety of organic wastes are 'cracked' at the molecular level and the long-chain polymers (plastic, organic material such as wood, etc.) are chemically altered to become short-chain hydrocarbons with no combustion. Combustion requires oxygen or a similar compound, but according to Green Power the CDP occurs in an anaerobic environment, exposed only to inert gases like nitrogen.

Re:Shutdown? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34302586)

I don't know the details, but from reading the EPA thing, it looks like it was a regulatory issue. They turn trash into fuel, then burn some of that fuel in a gas turbine for power generation. The EPA said "Gee, that sounds like a waste incinerator" and then shut the plant down because they didn't comply with regulations for a waste incinerator. It took years, but they eventually convinced the authorities that the actual waste isn't combusted so it doesn't count as an incinerator. At that point the compliance ceased to be an issue and they are allowed to operate again.

dom

Re:Shutdown? (1)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303030)

From what I can tell reading the article, it wasn't the EPA that shut them down but the state of Washington's own environmental regulators. It's the EPA that's overruling Washington state's environmental regulators and saying that no, this thing isn't burning the actual waste, so you cannot keep it from operating.

Hmmm... (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301084)

What I always wonder about with these waste-to-energy-it's-like-incineration-but-not-that-bad-kind-you-remember schemes is what happens with waste that is nasty on the level of the elements it contains, rather than just chemically.

If you burn something hard enough(not always something you can expect a real-world plant to do, with out considerable care; but we'll be charitable) virtually anything that is nasty because of its chemical structure is no longer your problem. That's why they incinerate chemical weapons, after all. With things like lead, cadmium, mercury, chlorine, etc. though, that are just tactless at the atomic level, about all you can do is produce aerosols, oxides, or both. Those then rain down merrily on the surrounding environment and proceed to do their thing.

Unfortunately, especially with modern plastics-and-electronics waste, which is very hard to separate economically from the rest of the stuff, such elements are all over the place. Your average widget from two christmasses ago probably contains a decent amount of chlorine, in the form of PVC insulation and the like, possibly some NiCads, bromated flame retardants, maybe some pre-ROHS leaded board or components, and possibly some plastic dyes that you don't really want to be burning(for instance, most of the world's cadmium that doesn't go into batteries goes either into optoelectronics or lightfast dyes for plastics. Lovely yellows and reds can be achieved)...

If there were some giant stream of nice, clean FDA-approved-for-food-contact polystyrene or something, burning it would produce pretty much nothing but the co2 and water, possibly a bit of carbon black, that you'd expect from looking at a basic chem textbook. With real world waste streams, though, there is so much ancillary crap in there that bad results are positively to be expected. It might still be better than coal, or better than incomplete combustion in a 19th century tech incinerator or Bubba's burn pit; but it isn't going to be pretty.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301452)

Maybe you already answered this somewhere in there and I just didn't get it - but is the process in this story (creating liquid fuel) better than just incinerating the waste to make electricity onsite? That seems more direct. All the stuff that would have to be caught by smoke scrubbers, where does it go in this liquid fuel plant?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

sunspot42 (455706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303038)

In theory this process could be a lot better, since the point is to break the polymers in the waste down into simpler hydrocarbon chains and then burn only those. At least that's my understanding. All the nasty stuff either gets degraded down into simple hydrocarbons and burns (cleanly) or is left behind as solid or liquid residue, which you can then dispose of.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303648)

Don't worry, the heavy metals will eventually be sequestered in concrete lined vaults, just as soon as the poor saps that accumulate it in their bones die.

perpetual-motion loonies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301096)

They have a good idea ---but WTF are they doing hanging out with "pure energy" perpetual-motion loonies?

Good man.......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301238)

I would have just moved my operations to a more business friendly area, like China.

Government in action again (3, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301280)

From TFA:

In August of 2009, GPI was shut down by Washington state's Ecology Department who said GPI had "not provided adequate compliance with the environmental air quality regulations." This was cleared on September 8, 2010 by an EPA ruling that support's GPI's claim and reverses Washington state's Ecology Department's claim that placed the GPI process in the class of incinerators, which it is not.

So the government of my state caused major problems for GPI, and the federal government had to overrule the state. That's just great.

According to TFA, GPI's plant operates using "a proprietary catalytic pressure-less depolymerization process (CDP)" yet the state Department of Ecology (DoE) insisted on regulating the plant as if it were an incinerator plant, which it clearly isn't.

We have a liberal Democrat for a governor, the Democrats have a complete lock on the state legislature, and plenty of liberal voters. Our governor claims to be in favor of the environment, in favor of business that helps the state, in favor of jobs, etc. Where was she when the state DoE was causing these problems?

I really wonder at the politics behind this. If this is random bureaucrats just being pointlessly bureaucratic, why didn't any other part of government get involved and help resolve this? Where were the state senators and representatives from the Pasco area? Did the governor just never hear of this, and if so, how is that possible?

If I were governor and something like this happened, I would very publicly intervene. There's no political downside! The governor has more power than bureaucrats at the DoE, and the voters would love to hear that a green energy project was helped out. So why didn't that happen?

P.S. This of course reminds me of the other thermal depolymerization [wikipedia.org] plant, the plant in Carthage, Missouri [discovermagazine.com] that processed turkey offal into energy and fuel. That plant was shut down several times, over allegations of a bad smell; the bad smell was reported at least once on a day that the plant wasn't operating. Eventually they installed upgraded scrubbers on their exhaust stacks and resumed operation. The company, Changing World Technologies [wikipedia.org] went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy [gigaom.com] and I guess the TDP plant was shut down. That seems crazy to me; the price of crude oil is high, so they should be able to run their plant at a profit. I guess they are just in too much trouble financially to even run the plant right now?

I hope this "CDP" plant in Pasco works out better than the Changing Worlds one did.

steveha

Re:Government in action again (4, Interesting)

greggle (148323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302026)

It is not as cut-and-dried as TFA (I prefer to call it press-release journalism) claims.

From the Tri-City Herald: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2010/11/21/1260850/pasco-biomass-company-plans-to.html [tri-cityherald.com]

There are plenty of so-called businessmen out there with grandiose plans of converting biomass to energy without any pollution. Unfortunately, this sounds like one of them.

Re:Government in action again (3, Interesting)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302742)

There are plenty of so-called businessmen out there with grandiose plans of converting biomass to energy without any pollution. Unfortunately, this sounds like one of them.

If you read the related links, you will see that GPI really can produce a quality product; according to this page [peswiki.com] you can take the output of their test plant and pour it into the tank of a diesel truck and it will just work. And if you read the claims, it seems it doesn't pollute the air while doing it (impurities from the input stream come out the far end as some sort of solid). Some combustible gas is produced as a by-product of the reaction (methane, I guess) and they plan to burn that to provide power to operate the plant, making it self-fueling. (The same thing is true of the Changing Worlds plant that converts turkey offal to oil.) In short, if these web pages are true, GPI is not making "grandiose claims" that aren't true.

Also, GPI seems to have some real problems paying bills on time. That has nothing to do with the technology. (And the Washington state DoE shutting them down didn't exactly help GPI to pay their bills on time.)

It seems the DoE shut them down because the DoE believes that GPI should have filed some paperwork related to burning trash. GPI went to the federal EPA and got a ruling [pesn.com] that their process does not fall into the category of burning trash, and thus the DoE was wrong to require trash-burning paperwork.

I'm wondering if GPI could have avoided the problems by talking to the DoE more up front. One of the articles quoted a DoE representative as saying that the DoE had no idea what might come out of this plant, since nobody from GPI had filed any paperwork. But GPI filed paperwork with the EPA... are we to believe they withheld details of their process from the Washington state government but were willing to disclose the details to the EPA? If so, why?

I can't sleuth out the truth by reading all the newspaper articles on the web, so I don't know for sure what exactly is going on. I just hope that they get this thing going... efficiently turning waste into usable fuel is a win every way you look at it.

They claim they can produce diesel at a cost of less than $0.80 per gallon; at gas stations near me, diesel costs over four times that much, so they ought to be able to sell all the diesel they can make at a tidy profit. Then maybe they can pay back all the people to whom they owe money.

steveha

Re:Government in action again (1)

greggle (148323) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303196)

I am a total skeptic of this plant, but good luck to him if it works.

Reading through the stories, I see they are burning methane. And the process produces 10 tons of ash per 100 tons input, destined for cement kilns and the like. Will we get to know what is in that ash, or is it a 'trade secret?'

So obviously there is some permitting process with the state he has to go through.
I trust my state to determine whether his plant can do what it says without adding to pollution problems rather than his word.

Washington, particularly rural parts, e.g. Hanford, has been dumped on in the name of progress. I would rather be safe than the testing ground for new allegedly environmentally safe technologies.

In Washington state, there is no dearth of biomass to energy projects. Must involve combustion of waste products from timber industry and the like. If they can be done cleanly, build away.

The Jerz (1)

junner518 (1235322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301352)

But think of New Jersey! That state alone could power the country!

Laptops are NOT "feedstock". (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301374)

Feedstock in this context refers mainly to natural organics, such as leaves and twigs, corn stalks and husks, etc. As such, this plant is probably not so different from the "thermal reactors" that are currently making fuel oil from processed chicken parts and other such dross

This operation is a good thing, don't misunderstand me. But for the foreseeable future, we will not be turning laptops into fuel oil.

Re:Laptops are NOT "feedstock". (3, Informative)

VTI9600 (1143169) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301690)

Actually, I think they are referring primarily to plastics that get thrown in the trash. "Feedstock" is just a generic term for the raw material that goes into any type of factory. Since your laptop's outer shell is probably made of plastic, it could theoretically be used in this process. Busted laptops are e-waste (i.e. hazardous material), hence the special regulations that govern the disposal and recycling thereof. Considering this, I doubt that they could be used as raw feedstock for the fuel-creation process. However, after a bit of dismantling, the plastic bits could be separated from the rest and fed into this factory.

Nevertheless, I agree that randomly claiming that 1 laptop == 1 quart of diesel fuel is just plain silly...

Now your laptop can turn into a quart of diesel fuel to power your trip to the dump.

...and what makes this guy think my car runs on diesel anyway? ;-)

Re:Laptops are NOT "feedstock". (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302452)

"'Feedstock' is just a generic term for the raw material that goes into any type of factory."

I am aware of this, and mentioned myself that in this context it referred basically to organics. I did say "natural", which is not strictly accurate, but that is what these plants are typically tuned to consume. The thermal-reactor plant near the Tyson chicken factory, for example, can process just about any kind of organics from chicken parts to grain to cornstalks... and I imagine plastics too; they have been mentioned before. But they have to "fine tune" the process to the particular mix in each batch of feedstock they use, in order to maintain a reasonable level of output.

If the OP was referring to just the plastic shell, then fine. But he did not say so, and the shell is typically only a fraction of the mass of a laptop.

Re:Laptops are NOT "feedstock". (1)

phoebus1553 (522577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302474)

Maybe they're assuming that if you go to the dump you're:

A. driving a garbage truck
B. driving something of your own that carries a large mass of 'stuff' there, like a diesel powered pickup.
C. dropping your 30 yr old VW Rabbit off there, and then taking a CNG city bus home :-P

Grammar Nazi Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34301386)

Compound words are not verbs.

Re:Grammar Nazi Here (1)

ziggyzaggy (552814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302834)

That is false, English has, in addition to compound nouns, compound verbs and compound adjectives.

"Validated" in 2006? (1)

kdataman (1687444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301404)

This article from 2006: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1677696/posts [freerepublic.com] "Arrangements are presently underway to receive technical verification and standardization, through Combustion Resources of Provo, Utah, as well as Idaho National Laboratories, two independent and nationally recognized research firms, which specialize in study and verification of similar technologies. Their initial analysis should be complete within a few weeks. What does it mean to say 'arrangements are presently underway'? It isn't clear if either of these firms actually did anything and no results were ever mentioned after that point.

Don't we have this already? (1)

SteelFist (734281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301750)

"Green Power describes its process as a proprietary catalytic pressure-less depolymerization process (CDP) where municipal solid waste or a wide variety of organic wastes are 'cracked' at the molecular level and the long-chain polymers (plastic, organic material such as wood, etc.) are chemically altered to become short-chain hydrocarbons with no combustion. Combustion requires oxygen or a similar compound, but according to Green Power the CDP occurs in an anaerobic environment, exposed only to inert gases like nitrogen."

This sounds very similar to a heavy oil conversion unit, which takes long chains of hydrocarbons (organic materials) and breaks them into smaller molecules. Refineries have been doing this for decades! I'm not saying this isn't good to reduce overall waste or anything like that, but unless I'm missing something, this is hardly new technology...

As a couple examples of conversion units:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coker_unit [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluid_catalytic_cracking [wikipedia.org]

Re:Don't we have this already? (1)

ziggyzaggy (552814) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302788)

Not all organic materials are hydrocarbons (exclusively hydrogen and carbon atoms). Cellulose, for example is chains of sugar (contain oxygen besides the hydrogen and carbon). Plenty of plastics are not hydrocarbons either.

Re:Don't we have this already? (1)

SteelFist (734281) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303082)

True, I was focusing on hydrocarbons because that's what this technology is usually applied for. But the basic process of taking a long molecular chain and breaking it into multiple smaller chains seems pretty similar to what is done on hydrocarbons, even if the chain contains oxygen as well.

Why would foreign projects care about the EPA? (1)

kdataman (1687444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34301816)

I would think the EPA could only stop them from running their own plant in the US, but not from producing the parts to install overseas. Can anyone find one specific location mentioned where one of these will be going? Or one foreign official that will admit to buying one of these?

Re:Why would foreign projects care about the EPA? (1)

phoebus1553 (522577) | more than 3 years ago | (#34302458)

Reading comprension is good...

The agency that was causing them pain was the Washington (I presume) department of Ecology (http://www.ecy.wa.gov perhaps) for their pilot plant in Pasco, Washington. The EPA finally told them they could get back to whatever they're doing there, probably showing the place off to investors and prospective clients.

As for the 'where are they going' question:
"Spitzauer, says that GPI has over $2 billion dollars in signed contracts for GPI plants, including in Vietnam, Spain, France, Yugoslavia, and a very large installation in South America to be launched in April."

I guess that's not GPS coordinates or anything, but it is more than generalities like 'we have some contracts'. Since the S.A. one is apparently well into contstruction and presumably nearly ready to go live, maybe there's more about it on their website... or something.

Re:Why would foreign projects care about the EPA? (1)

kdataman (1687444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34304454)

I think my 'comprension' is fine.

Why would someone with a signed contract care about the pilot project halting? They are already convinced. Running the pilot shouldn't affect building the parts for the install.

But even if that was a holdup, if GPI wants to brag about a real location in France don't you think they would mention the city? Don't you think that a location in South American would at least mention the country? I could find nothing else on this anywhere. There is nothing specific enough for someone to say "no I am not under contract".

Andy why aren't these customers bragging about their projects? If I was convinced I would have Al Gore cutting ribbons on my project.

I still think something smells fishy.

Horse Poop (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34303430)

I heard you can power a pickup truck with Horse Poop....

At least that is what the History Channel says in Apocalypse PA.

Mr. Fusion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34303824)

Wake me when I can put some banana peels and soda from the trash into my Delorean to make it go.

Construction waste would be better reused. (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34304112)

The EPA estimates that 30% to 50% of solid waste in at least some areas of the US is generated from construction and demolition of buildings. Of that, about 55% is from demolition with the remainder being from construction and remodeling. Of what construction and demolition waste hits landfills, 30% to 40% is lumber.

Most C&D waste, including lumber, brick, concrete blocks, poured concrete, pipes, plumbing fixtures, wiring, flooring, drywall, glass, and asphalt can be either reconditioned or recycled.

So yeah, it's good to get your old laptop turned into something useful like fuel. Don't forget to get your building waste turned into something useful, too, though. Most of it can be processed and resold rather than going into the landfill in the first place.

Syngas Spin (1)

jcwinnie (672576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34304744)

More Fischer-Tropsch Evil, Go Vivoleum instead
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