Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

From Turkey Guts to Fuel Oil 411

Posted by michael
from the every-part-except-the-gobble dept.
Untimely Ripp'd writes "The latest issue of Discover Magazine reports that any day now a plant will go online in Carthage, Missouri that processes turkey guts into high grade oil, natural gas, some minerals, and water. Unfortunately, the Discover article isn't online yet, but here's a newspaper article. The system, developed by Changing World Technologies uses thermal depolymerization and apparently works on almost any and every kind of organic waste. They assert that applying it to 100% of the US' agricultural waste would produce about 4 billion barrels of oil per year -- about the amount we currently import. It sounds too good to be true, it sounds like one of those fly-by-night-in-the-face-of-the-second-law deals, but it isn't happening in somebody's basement -- it's happening in a multi-million dollar facility developed with Con-Agra."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

From Turkey Guts to Fuel Oil

Comments Filter:
  • by CommieLib (468883) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:45PM (#5640248) Homepage
    This is really just fossil fuels for the extremely impatient.
    • APRIL FOOLS! AHAHAHAHA!
      • APRIL FOOLS! AHAHAHAHA!

        Ummmmmm..... nope.

        Discover magazine has been known to pull a couple of good ones come 4/1, but this is not one of them. First of all, this is in the MAY issue of the magazine (magazines usually publish a month early, remember).

        I read this story three or four days ago when the issue appeared in my snail-mail folder.

        This issue may not be on newsstands yet, but if you know somebody who has a subscription, then they probably already have it.

    • Good but overrated (Score:5, Informative)

      by einhverfr (238914) <chris.traversNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @07:28PM (#5641278) Homepage Journal
      There are some substantial differences (good and bad) relating to this method.

      1) Using biomass means that all carbon embodied in the fuel is from CO2 relatively recently removed from the atmosphere. Petrolium products when burned dump carbon into the carbon cycle (CO2->Plant Biomass -> many possible steps (optional) -> decomposition -> CO2. This is good because biomass fuels don't increase CO2 levels in our atmosphere as fossil fuels do.

      2) On the negative side, there is a lot of fuel involved in raising, the turkeys (equipment relating to feed, transport of feed, raising the turkeys, transporting them, slaughtering them, transporting the guts to the factory, etc).

      My suspician is that we will see it use less fuel than transporting the guts of the turkey to the factory, processing them, etc. and since these parts are currently unused, it will ge a good thing. However, I suspect that we will not see a net fuel gain from this process (more fuel will go into raising/transporting feed, etc. than you will get out of the turkey) and so it can only subsidize the fuel cost of raising a turkey, not completely even mitigate that.

      That being said, I am all for it. I think that if we looked at methane digesters for manure of all marge animal farms, this sort of project, etc. it would reduce our petrolium consumption and allow us to leave a smaller ecological footprint.
  • by antaeogo (608846) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:45PM (#5640250)
    I was expecting that evil 'bit' story...
  • This is wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by madfgurtbn (321041) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:45PM (#5640254)
    Something like this could really help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. I betcha the oil industry is going to try to discredit this breakthrough in energy technology.
  • by Marley (305907) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:45PM (#5640256)
    petro products stunk... I bet this smells much more foul... ;)
  • Paranoid (Score:5, Funny)

    by ElGuapoGolf (600734) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:45PM (#5640257) Homepage
    I'm so paranoid, I can't tell if this is another April Fools or not!
    • Re:Paranoid (Score:3, Informative)

      by Psiolent (160884)
      It's definitely real. I've read the article in Discover, complete with a full page picture of intestines, spleens, and various other turkey pieces. Not a good idea to flip to while you're eating dinner.
  • I am without speech! Get out!!!

    (Seinfield impression)
  • Why bother? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dmuth (14143) <doug.muth+slashdot@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:46PM (#5640263) Homepage Journal
    Why bother with a plant for this? I can already turn chili into ah, "natural gas". :-)
  • by langedb (518453) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:47PM (#5640269) Homepage Journal
    The date on the article was Dec. 4, 2002, so I think this one is legit.
  • by Rayonic (462789) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:47PM (#5640270) Homepage Journal
    So does it mean we'll have to invade Kentucky next?
  • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:48PM (#5640281)
    This does not look like an April Fool's joke. Thereby leaving everybody who expected the headline involving turning turkey guts into fuel oil to be a joke thoroughly stumped for clever things to say.


    My guess is that the Slashdot eds thought it _was_ an April Fool's joke or they wouldn't have posted it today. If they repost it a second time within the next two hours though, we'll know it must be true.

  • April Fools (Score:5, Funny)

    by Phoenix823 (448446) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:48PM (#5640283)
    This is just a plan to let President Bush take care of all those PETA wackos. You see, by making oil from turkeys, he'll surely upset any self-righteous PETA member. They'll boycott the new oil and continue to use oil from the middle East, and consequently they'll be supporting terrorism. Thankfully, the Patriot Act will allow the government to lock up these proponents of terrorism for an indefinite amount of time at an undisclosed location.

    Now finally, we may all eat meat without fearing harrassment.
    • Oh really? (Score:4, Funny)

      by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @06:09PM (#5640823) Homepage Journal
      Lock them up you say?

      Wouldn't it be more efficient to use them to fuel your SUV?

      Amoco/BP Green: It's People!

      (that's funny on multiple levels...think environmentalists, vegetarians, "BP" stands for British People, Soylent Green...pure comedy gold!)
    • This is just a plan to let President Bush take care of all those PETA wackos. You see, by making oil from turkeys, he'll surely upset any self-righteous PETA member. They'll boycott the new oil and continue to use oil from the middle East, and consequently they'll be supporting terrorism.

      PETA is already [pilotonline.com] known to support [consumerfreedom.com] domestic terrorist groups [fb.com]...there's really no need to work in a Middle East angle when dealing with them.

  • by molarmass192 (608071) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:48PM (#5640284) Homepage Journal
    This wouldn't happen to be an expansion of the "Little Lisa Slurry Factory" would it?
  • It sounds too good to be true, it sounds like one of those fly-by-night-in-the-face-of-the-second-law deals

    If something is too good to be true, check the calendar.

    Out of all the stories posted today, this is the only one that actually looks like news. Nice work, /. team!
  • The newspaper article is from Dec. 4, 2002... why the posting today???
    • Re:Old article... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Psiolent (160884)
      Because it just now made it into Discover. I assume that prompted the submitter to seek out another article somewhere discussing the same thing.
  • Great, now every highway will smell like KFC.
  • Yeah, just so you know, I read it in the latest Discover I got in the mail. I mean, the process could be, and they're taking Discover for a ride (haven't read the article yet), but I doubt it was posted in jest.
    • by nanojath (265940) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:18PM (#5640501) Homepage Journal
      It's not an April Fool's day story, and it isn't exactly new news - it's another process for converting biomass (the use of turkey as the prime example is unfortunate because it promotes the hoax claim, but given the article was originally published early December it was probably a post-Thanksgiving kind of novel angle thing.


      There are a lot of biomass reduction techniques going on to produce combustible fuels. As the article states they all run into the same problem - economics. Nature did all the heavy work on crude oil for us - so naturally from the perspective of in the ground to a watt or a mile or whatever, the price of oil is hard to beat, particularly given its enormous infrastructure advantage. Even if you're using "free" feedstocks (i.e. wastes) the processing cost can be a killer.


      So, for these fuels to make any impact, they generally need to be subsidized somehow. The article makes it clear that the economics of this fuel source are far from proven.


      There are little startups like this all over the place. So far none of the techniques developed have made a serious impact on our use of oil. Without real public and government support for changing our energy base, this one probably won't either.

    • Yeah, just so you know, I read it in the latest Discover I got in the mail. I mean, the process could be, and they're taking Discover for a ride (haven't read the article yet), but I doubt it was posted in jest.

      I hope you are correct (i.e. that this is true) but the fact that discover printed it doesn't necessarily make it true. They have perpetuated their own April fool's day hoaxes in the past. Remember how the April 1995 issue of Discover talked about the newly discovered hot-headed ice borers [museumofhoaxes.com], a c

    • I read it in the latest Discover

      That doesn't prevent it from being a joke. In its April 1985 issue Discover Magazine announced that the highly respected wildlife biologist Dr. Aprile Pazzo had discovered a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. These fascinating creatures had bony plates on their heads that, fed by numerous blood vessels, could become burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speeds. They used this ability to hunt penguins, melting the ice beneath th
  • Assuming this isn't just a Fool's gag (and given that the link was from a December article, I'm likely to give it the benefit of the doubt)...well, this seems like a more practical version of "the robots use the humans as batteries" in the Matrix...they don't use our 'bioelectricity', but they need us for oil! Greasy acne-ridden geeks especially.

    Though, as with the hydrogen as fuel issue, you have to make sure that the process to turn turkey remains into fuel doesn't take too much energy itself...in which
  • by ObligatoryUserName (126027) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:52PM (#5640324) Journal
    I wonder how many people will write this off as an April Fools joke. I've only skimmed The Discover article, but it is an extremely optimistic piece, and the writer seems chagrinned that he couldn't present a more skeptical case. If this technology was widely deployed it could almost eliminate foreign oil dependence.

    The article also talked about no increases in carbon in the environment because oil isn't pulled up from underground, it's created from biological waste (carbon already in the environment). I believe there was a quote in there along the lines of "every living thing becomes a little carbon sink".

    Warren Buffett is an investor (via ConAgra) and the field tests should be done by 2005.

    • If this technology was widely deployed it could almost eliminate foreign oil dependence.

      The problem being though... where are you going to get enough Turkeys (or carbon source of choice) to make enough for a whole country? I mean... animal rights activists will be going nuts!

      Personally... I want one that attaches to my car. Just stop off at the nearest farm, grab a few turkeys... toss in a garborator, and extract fuel. With all the feathers that fly out, maybe I could make a nice window shade or someth
      • Perhaps the animal rights activists will volunteer to take the place of some of the turkeys. If that is the case then I think I might need to buy me an SUV.

      • Auto fuel.. is... PEOPLE!!

        k.. maybe it was funnier in my head..
      • The problem being though... where are you going to get enough Turkeys (or carbon source of choice) to make enough for a whole country?

        "Soylent Green is Peeeeeople!!!"

        I'm just sayin'.

      • Personally... I want one that attaches to my car. Just stop off at the nearest farm, grab a few turkeys... toss in a garborator, and extract fuel.

        Better still you could mount an industrial strength combined scoop/blender on the front of your bonnet to mash up the organic matter and pump it into the garborator. Then, whenever you got low on fuel, you could just drive through the nearest turkey field/protest march/whatever to fill up.

      • The problem being though... where are you going to get enough Turkeys (or carbon source of choice) to make enough for a whole country?

        Iraq?

        [/sick humor]
  • by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:53PM (#5640335) Journal
    (1) Club baby seal
    (2) ?
    (3) Oil!
  • Not a Joke. (Score:5, Informative)

    by blunte (183182) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @04:57PM (#5640361)
    A friend reported this story to me in detail 2 or 3 days ago in great detail.

    There are two plants either in operation now, or just starting up. One is right next to a Butterball Turkey factory.

    The process breaks organic materials down thru some process of super-hydration, 500 degree heat, some moderate amount of pressure, and then results in various oils and water (clean enough to go into normal treatment plants).

    Also, oil companies reportedly support this because the novel approach is actually easier and cleaner for processing crude oils than existing refineries. So they stand to gain from this as well.

    There's a lot of good info on this, so don't discount it just because /. posted it today.

    I hope it's a huge success.
    • The process breaks organic materials down thru some process of super-hydration, 500 degree heat, some moderate amount of pressure

      Funny, that's how my wife cooks her Turkey too.

      Craenor
    • The technology to do this is actually fairly old, as is the basic design. The TDP plant discussed here is new and important because instead of removing water from the second-stage waste by boiling it out, it moves it to a new chamber and rapidly depressurizes it. This keeps the carbon chains from breaking down too far to be useful.

      The potential is to be able to break down any amount of carbon-based waste into oil, sterilized water, and useful minerals with only 15% energy loss. It's far-fetched right now,
  • Of course, the members of PETTG (People for the Ethical Treatment of Turkey Gibblets) will be holding a protest in Washington DC this weekend.
  • More info (Score:4, Informative)

    by lub (188080) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:01PM (#5640393)
    At the web site of Changing World Technologies [changingworldtech.com].
  • by jonbrewer (11894) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:02PM (#5640401) Homepage
    But [James Stoffer] added that while the plant may be a "tough go" economically, it's worth the investment because of what it promises for the environment.

    If such companies [factoryfarm.org] actually paid fines for breaking environmental laws by polluting with livestock wastes, they would not find reprocessing a "tough go" economically. Unfortunately, the EPA doesn't have the balls to go after even the most blatant of violators, and thus the food-processors get away with murder.

    When Con-Agra rolls out such zero-emissions factories everywhere (As William McDonough writes of in Cradle to Cradle [slashdot.org]) I will happily invest in their stock and buy their products.
  • This story reminded me of the slug-killing robot [bbc.co.uk] that runs off of decomposing slug corpses. Gross, yet cool.

  • old news (Score:4, Informative)

    by constantnormal (512494) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:07PM (#5640438)
    ... if you do the following google: "(waste OR trash) into oil"

    you will find similar articles, mostly from the summer of 2001 ?!!?. (Google cached story from Kansas City Tribune [216.239.51.100])

    Either the people involved are doing a series of pilot plants in scaling this up, or somebody's dragging their feet. Or maybe it's just a case parallel developments utilizing similar technology -- but it sure sounds like the same thing.

    The prospect of $14/barrel high-quality oil (the cost quoted in Discover) while providing an environmental service should have the capitalists breaking down the doors. It seems like they're taking a leisurely route to large-scale exploitation -- what's going on here?

    Shouldn't we have oil companies partnering with ConAgra and building refineries adjacent to slaughterhouses? Or at least set up a pipeline to a refinery?
    • And as this technology grows and matures, we each migh be able to have a little oil processor in our own house. The pipeline you suggest from the slaughterhouse to refinery could be expanded into a public utility - the Offal Board, or Guts Grid maybe.

      Man, can you imagine putting a new flowerbed in your garden and accidentally hitting that line?
    • Do you know what it is they hate about the biodiesel?

      It's the smell. If there is such a thing. They feel saturated by it. They can taste it's stink...and every time they do, they fear that they've somehow been infected by it.
  • by nesneros (214571) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:10PM (#5640456) Homepage
    Will we have to start selling "vegan-friendly" fuel now?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm just waiting for them to turn a cup of crude oil into high-quality turkey meat. mmmm.... turkey!
  • While methane and other gases that are produced are used to power the plant, all the end products except the purified water can be sold, [Halberstadt] said.

    Yeah, because nobody needs water.

    TheFrood
    • Re:Odd quote (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mgessner (46612)
      I question this, too... if it's purified water, why can't it be sold? Is there some kind of federal or state regulation/legislation that prevents it?

      Couldn't they use the water for drought? (Maybe there's not enough?) Couldn't they use it in products that require water but aren't for consumption (i.e. cleaners, ice packs, swimming pools ;) or SOMETHING?)

      Maybe it's just not worth the effort to haul it around...
  • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lobsterGun (415085) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:20PM (#5640515)
    I have to think that the amount of energy required to heat all that organic matter up to 500 degrees is not going to be insubstancial.

    So just how energy efficient is this process?
    • As an industrial process, 500 degrees (at least if it's Fahrenheit), doesn't sound all that bad. How about combining this with Geothermal?

      We get all our OIL from Yellowstone!

      More likely as pointed out by LimpGumpy in the next thread, the process is 85% efficient, so you can just use 15% of your output once you get the cycle started

      BTW, I did read the Discovery article, so as mentioned by others, not likely a hoax.

  • by rocjoe71 (545053) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:26PM (#5640544) Homepage
    Automobiles, upon filling the tank with turkey-petrol, tend not to be drivable and prefer to doze on the couch watching NFL football.
  • This process isn't going to be free in terms of energy cost. At the very least they're heating a whole bunch of stuff up, pressurizing it, and then separating what's left. I'm curious... what's the energy cost of this method compared to the energy cost of the old way of refining oil?

  • Why not run our vehicles on veggie oil, rather than animal oil? No PETA problems, and a much smaller environmental footprint, afaict. Given that the technology already exists for coverting diesel engines to run on veggie oil, and the slow adoption despite that, I don't see this animal option as some new panacea.
    • Given that the technology already exists for coverting diesel engines to run on veggie oil,

      You don't even need to convert the engine. Used cooking oil (animal or vegetable) treated with a little glycerine works cleanly in an unmodified diesel car.

      News item here [guardian.co.uk]
  • by scotay (195240) on Tuesday April 01, 2003 @05:31PM (#5640576)
    Since Changing World Technology installed their "turkey" depolymerization pilot [changingworldtech.com] program, we're swimming in oil. The dramatic upturn in oil revenue, combined with the sudden, unexplained drop in the number of homeless people (and now pigeons) has left the city coffers flush with funds in an economic downturn. And let me tell you, Con-Agra's Soylent Gold runs with less pinging than any of those premium over-priced gasolines.
  • I first read about this in "Science Magazine" but in that article they were using cow manure and at times the farmer was making nearly as much from the electricity as from the milk. You can search on Google but here's one article [startribune.com]
  • I've been following this for a couple of years now, the article in Discover is pretty good.

    Here's a link from The KC Star from 2001: kcstar.com [kcstar.com]
  • http://www.joplinglobe.com/archives/2001/010724/bu siness/story2.html\

    Here is an article discussing the ground-breaking of the TDP plant next to the Butterball factory in 2001.

    If it is an April Fool's hoax, they went through a LOT of trouble to do it well.

  • I see a new Fox network movie special. A serial killer that disposes of his victims by recycling them and then refueling his car...

    Shades of Soylent Green?

    "Hey baby. Want to go for a ride?"

    -Goran ;P
  • Now Dubya has an excuse to invade Turkey as well!
  • by tx_mgm (82188)
    ....wouldnt this lead to reduced profits by haliburton & co. after we've "awarded" them their contracts to rebuild iraq's oil industry? after all, if we could meet these theoretical production levels then our dependance on foreign oil just shot thru the floor. i guess they'd still have france and germany as customers, but (pardon me if im wrong, as its been awhile since my last economics class) doesnt price come down with demand?
    if this is true, how hard do you think this will be fought by our resident
  • I hate this day. Slashdot it really difficult to use. Anyways, here are some links to simular articles which makes me think that this is true:

    http://www.joplinglobe.com/archives/2002/020806/ bu siness/story1.html

    http://www.joplinglobe.com/archives/2001/010729/ re gional/story1.html

    http://www.springfieldnews-leader.com/projects/s te wardship/alternative072102.html
  • Can the results be cracked into all the distillates that crude oil can be, or are they limited? The biggest concern, of course, is whether you can distill gasoline out. Even if we as a country did produce a volume equal to our total imports of this oil, if we can't extract gasoline from it, a lot of it will simply be excess.

We can predict everything, except the future.

Working...