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April 16, 2007


Oren Tirosh

It's diesel from a biological source, but thermal depolymerization produces straight hydrocarbons, not the fatty acid esters which are usually associated with the term "biodiesel".


This sounds exactly like European SunDiesel....

The advantage? Lower, not higher NOx emmisions.

And any input can be used, to make virtually any output.

Thermal Depolymerization (Or as I prefer to call it Fischer Trophe) is about as high a yield as is physically possible from biomass.
Puts "cellulosic" processing to shame.


But that said, BioFuels aren't that sustainable anyways.

Brazil, the shining example of BioFuel use.
Their "energy independance".

Brazil still uses Oil for over 80% of their fuel.


Only reason oil companies want biofuels is to use it as an additive.

MBTE got killed. So they want Ethanol to replace it.

New "ultralow sulfur diesel" mandates have made diesel fuels too thick. 2% BioDiesel makes that problem go away.


Did you really think Oil companies are doing any of their out of the goodness of their own hearts?


Are they stealing technology from these guys?

They've been doing this in southwestern Missouri for years.


Bill Hannahan

They mix bio-products with fossil fuel and present it to the public as if it is totally renewable. The minimum guaranteed ratio is not mentioned. The fossil energy consumed in processing is not mentioned.

We need some truth in labeling laws for use of the word “renewable”.

Each product called renewable should be required to come with a number that is the overall global percentage reduction of ancient carbon released into the environment associated with the use of that product vs. the conventional product. The analysis with assumptions and references should be available to the public.

I think many people would be shocked by how small some of those numbers are, corn ethanol for example.

Kit P.

You might be shocked by how large it is.

Bill, I agree but what are trying to do put your favorite type of renewable energy out of business? I have noticed that favorites are based on ignorance and distance.

However, in this case the comparison should not be 'the product vs. the conventional product.' The correct comparison would old process compared to new process. For example, a waste treatment process uses energy to dispose of a waste while a new process may use energy to make an energy product out of a waste. A few years ago I headed a team performing an Integrated Safety Analysis (ISA) of a chemical plant. Using old processes, one valuable product was produced and several waste streams went to the air or the sewer. An evaporator running on natural gas was added to recover ammonia and other products. The improved process produced three valuable products and no waste.

However, if you just looked at ancient carbon released; the primary product got worse. The local WWTP and city taxpayers benefited greatly because the planned expansion for growth could be canceled. Getting nitrogen out of dilute waste water is very expensive and energy intensive (see COD, or BOD).

As Bill demonstrated, too many people are obsessed AGW. Marcus asked me if I was concerned with carbon emissions from coal. AGW is way down my list of concerns. First, is the safety of my family. My children live nearby. Second, is the safety of my co-workers. Protecting the environment is third. When it comes to trace amounts of of a non-toxic gas that is essential to life, that is low of list.

When ConocoPhillips-Tyson Foods builds their biodiesel facility they will have to do some sort of ISA and EIS.

I have shocked mangers at utilities with my numbers for ghg reductions using biomass an an energy source. Wind and solar do not reduce ghg or protect the environment. Utilities that do a good job of running coal and nuclear plants, probable do a good job with wind and solar. If done correctly wind and solar, may have a marginally smaller overall environmental impact than coal.

It is not as visually sexy as wind and solar but literally getting down to the dirt is how the US will solve AGW.

Brad Hoover

Just a brief note on the subject of Changing
world Tech. and there pilot plant in Carthage Missouri. Renewable Environmental Resources (a joint venture with Con Agra Foods) has been in operation since 2005. They fielded thousands of complaints about the odors they create. They have been cited, fined and shut down by the Governor. There investment is about 4 times what was projected and the oil produced is four times the cost of crude. And, it is not running production at this time.

Brad Hoover

Just a brief note on the subject of Changing
world Tech. and there pilot plant in Carthage Missouri. Renewable Environmental Resources (a joint venture with Con Agra Foods) has been in operation since 2005. They fielded thousands of complaints about the odors they create. They have been cited, fined and shut down by the Governor. There investment is about 4 times what was projected and the oil produced is four times the cost of crude. And, it is not running production at this time.


The troll writes:

Wind and solar do not reduce ghg or protect the environment.
Is that so?  Are you saying that the 14.6 billion kWh of wind power generated in 2005 displaced no fossil-fueled generation at all?  Solar is no better?  What is your basis for these assertions?  (Like you'll answer.)
I have shocked mangers at utilities with my numbers for ghg reductions using biomass an an energy source.
Indeed, torrefied biomass makes an excellent "renewable coal", and charcoal is the fuel of choice for the 80%-efficient direct-carbon fuel cell.  I have calculated some pretty impressive numbers myself.  But I don't expect the entire solution to come from biofuels, and I expect them to be edged out over time as more land-efficient sources (like PV) get cheaper.

However, you'll never acknowledge this, because you're only interested in peddling lies to a naïve and scientifically uneducated public.


"Torrefaction is a feasible method for improvement the properties of biomass as a fuel. It consists of a slow heating of biomass in an inert atmosphere to a maximum temperature of 300 °C [1]. The treatment yields a solid uniform product with a lower moisture content and a higher energy content compared to those in the initial biomass. The process may be called mild pyrolysis, with removal of smoke producing compounds and formation of solid product, retaining approximately 70% of the initial weight and 80-90% of the original energy content [2]."


Kit P.

Yes, indeedy. That is right. US use of fossil fuel use for generating electricity increased in 2005 and 2006. No fossil fuel was displaced by wind or solar.

The ghg value for wind is about +60 gco2/kwh, nuclear is about +10 gco2/kwh, coal is about +1000 gco2/kwh, natural gas is CCTG about +700 gco2/kwh, and waste biomass is about -900 gco2/kwh.

A small positive number added to a larger positive number results in a larger number. QED, my statement is correct.

Now who is ready to reduce ghg and protect the environment at the risk of not being PC?

Looking at EP's EIA numbers, I would start with the 2,000+ billion kWh coal source. If the +1000 gco2/kwh can be reduced to +900 gco2/kwh, that results in a -100 gco2/kwh. Wow this is a huge environmental win but the Supreme Court just ruled against this. More efficient light bulbs good, more efficient coal bad, go figure.

Next there is 780+ billion kWh nuclear source at +10 gco2/kwh. Looking at EP's EIA numbers over the last 10 years nuclear was a 148 billion kWh increase compared to wind increasing 11.8 billion kWh. Wow again, improvements at nuke plants provide 10 times the energy with no environmental impact compared to wind with huge environmental impact.

Now for the -900 gco2/kwhbiomass solution. Decaying biomass produces CH2 and N2O with a ghg potential of about 21 and 310. By processing waste using anaerobic digestion (AD), ghg is captured and converted to energy. Nitrogen and micro nutrients are converted organic fertilizer. More than a million ADs are used in WWTPs and various processing plants including ethanol.

So while A-P claims I am peddling lies. The fact is that wind and solar are a insignificant and decreasing share of US generation. Unlike, E-P I do not expect solar to increase market share. Wind and solar are fundamentally limited by the resource.


Kit P.

I am assuming that AGW is agricultural waste, if not I missed your point.

Remember that the analysis must consider the total global effect. If the ammonia captured by your process prevents an equal amount of ammonia production from natural gas it may well have a favorable result in all respects.

The press release left out a few important details besides the percentage of fossil fuel in the product.


They talked the treasury department into qualifying this project for a ONE DOLLAR PER GALLON TAX CREDIT.

Animal fat is a commodity, not a waste stream. None of this material currently goes into a land fill. My guess is it is used in animal feed, pet food and fertilizer.

They produce 2.3 billion pounds of animal fat annually, of which half will go into bio diesel. Other animal fat producers will likely join the bandwagon creating a shortage in that market, jacking the price up just as is happening with corn. Stockmen will pass the added cost on to the consumer.

Tyson Conoco will sell its boutique bio diesel at a premium price to people like Al Gore, who told congress he OFFSETS his huge natural gas consumption by buying bio fuel. “Offset” should be reserved for any technology that removes carbon from the atmosphere and places it in safe reliable storage for at least a few thousand years.

In summary, Tyson Conoco gets;

A huge one dollar / gal tax credit.

A premium price at the pump.

Increased profits on the sale of animal fat.

A pat on the back for taking care of the environment.

Meanwhile the middle class gets;

Hammered at the pump with high prices.

Hammered at the grocery with high prices.

Hammered on tax day to pay for TC’s big tax credit.

This is why CEO’s make the big bucks. The best ones can pick our pockets and make us thank them.


With deep irony, the troll writes:

US use of fossil fuel use for generating electricity increased in 2005 and 2006.
Notice this pattern of clever evasions.  The troll was asked if the 14.6 billion kWh of wind generation displaced any fossil fuel or not.  (At an average of 10200 BTU/kWh, it would take about 150 trillion BTU of fuel to make that much electricity.)  Wind generation increased, but total consumption increased faster.  Because wind did not meet the entire addition in demand, he derives a non-sequitur:
No fossil fuel was displaced by wind or solar.
The major backup for wind power is natural gas.  In 2005, the US burned 5.878 quads of gas for electric generation.  150 trillion BTU is about 2.5% of this figure, so the troll's claim is false:  wind power displaced as much as 2.5% of the natural gas used for electricity.

Where's the irony?  If total demand had decreased due to e.g. high prices (or if a wet year had boosted hydro generation more than the remaining increase), the troll would have been forced to conclude that wind power DID displace fossil fuel even if wind generation had stayed flat.  Yes, it's totally backwards, but that's what happens when you use a rubber ruler to measure reality.

Kit P.

Bill, AGW = anthropogenic global warming. There are two global issues, AGW and resource depletion. So when you capture the ammonia, you are also capturing the methane. You are also capturing phosphate, reducing soil erosion, odor and just generally making the local community a nicer place to live. Add it all up, and the AGW reduction is 300-400 times windmills.

My point to both Bill and E-P, if you really want to reduce AGW, you will focus on what works.

E-P focuses on the insignificant and the unpractical. Bill practices figure pointing. The fact is that taxes, energy and food are cheap relative to middle class income. Anyone who is getting hammered by high prices, is because the they are making poor choices. If you think a CEO is picking you pocket, stop buying their product.


I think Kit P. is on target here.

A few more points:

-This is not biodiesel.
-This is not Thermal Depolymerization as used by
Changing World Technologies and others. Changing World seems quite upset about this press release.

See this Bloomberg story:


The most telling of all of the things I have seen so far is the IRS rule change that lets them get the $1.00/gal tax credit.


Here are some excerpts:

"The Department of Energy has advised and the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service have concluded based on that advice that thermal depolymerization should be defined generically and broadly to include processes that use heat and pressure, with or without the presence of catalysts."

In the above paragraph we get to the change that has the folks at Changing World Technologies upset. This paragraph says to be TDP you just need heat and preassure not any of that fancy hard to make technology thatChanging World Technologies has spent years working on. It also gives us a clue that ConocoPhillips will not be using any new technology beyond the existing refining process of heat and preassure.

The next sentance in this paragrah is the one I like the best:

"The Department of Energy has also indicated that coproduced fuel attributable to biomass is likely to be virtually indistinguishable from the crude-oil derived products in the coproduced fuel, with only minor differences at the molecular level, and the rules in this notice relating to coproduced fuel follow from this view."

No one will really be able to tell what precentage of this coproduced fuel is bio based and neither will ConocoPhillips. And this statment is tied up nicely by the last sentence.

"A taxpayer claiming a credit or payment with respect to fuel treated as a renewable diesel mixture under section 3(a) of this notice must use generally accepted scientific practices to establish the portion of the fuel that is attributable to biomass."

But as stated earlier - there might not be a way to measuere it except on the input side.

This IRS rule change is very bad for the biodiesel industry and bad for tax payers. It is very good for big oil. It makes them look green, it kills off all of these upstart biodiesel guys and it nets a $1.00/gal tax credit for the trouble of making it all happen.

Reality Czech

Kit P. is strange.  Did anyone mention ammonia in this thread before he did?  What is he talking about?  What's the relationship to reality, if any?

Kit P.'s claim about wind turbines can be compared to data.  Diesel weighs about 7.7 pounds per gallon and has about 140,000 BTU of energy per gallon.  If biodiesel has the same density and 90% of the energy, 2.3 billion pounds of it comes to about 300 million gallons.  The total US consumption of frying grease is on the order of 1 billion gallons per year, so this is in the ballpark.

300 million gallons times 126,000 BTU/gallon works out to 3.8 trillion BTU; the entire waste-grease supply of ~1 billion gallons comes out to about 126 trillion BTU.  This is less than the 150 trillion BTU of natural gas displaced by wind.  On the supply end, 1 billion gallons of biodiesel is a large fraction of the entiere available resource, while the 14.6 billion kWh of production is less than 2% of the estimated available resource on the continental US.  The AWEA states that the potential wind energy from the top four states alone exceeds total US electric consumption (http://www.awea.org/faq/wwt_potential.html).

Wind is clearly working already, and has much more room for growth.  E-P is right and Kit P. is wrong.

Reality Czech

Sorry, make that 38 trillion BTU, not 3.8.


The real question comes down to taxpayer dollars spent per ton of CO2 avoided.

Is it cost effective to spend $60 taxdollars to avoid 1 ton of CO2 emmisions?

I think not.

Clearly biofuels are the big loser in that respect.


And while plants to absorb carbon, thats irrelevant if you burn that carbon and send it right back up. Even more irrelevant if you produce plenty of N20, O3, and CH4 to make it.

In that respect biofuels are just like wind and solar, in that it avoids additional GHG emmisions. But neither sequester GHG emmisions.

Kit P.

Let me recap for out-of-touch-with-Reality Czech. This is a discussion about a using food processing waste to produce renewable energy. Ammonia is an important part of producing food with a large environmental and energy impact.

If we take a holistic approach to food/energy we get better results than the linear approach to energy taken by EP & RC. There is still cool technology for the boys with toys crowd and the play with dirt group is not left.

While I am sure that EP knows there is no rules in a knife fight, there are rules for evaluating environment impact. If a company builds a newer cleaner coal plant and then close the old coal plant, that company can take credit for displacing fossil fuel and reducing ghg. A second example would be a company that buys an old 1000 MWe gas plant. It refurbished that plant turning it into 2000 MWe gas plant. In this case, no fossil fuel is displaced and no ghg reduction.

The final case is a company building a new gas fired power plant and new windmills. This is a very large increase in both fossil fuels and ghg. E-P is like the company that puts the pictures of the windmills on the cover of their annual report but when you read the earnings page is 99.9% is from fossil fuel.

I am not saying we should stop building windmills. We need ugly solutions too.

Kit P.

GreyFlcn, you are confusing products of combustion with the natural products of bacterial decay. Nitrous oxide, N20, is not considered a NOx for local air pollution (smog) but is a ghg. Collecting and flaring landfill gas is very cost effective for reducing ghg. Making electricity with an ICE is less cost effective while a fuel cell is even less cost effective.


As you well know, there's more types of green house gases, than just carbon dioxide.

While decreasing carbon dioxide, biofuels could quite easily increase these other more potent greenhouse gases.


And yes I could have outlined the Methane role a bit more obviously. But definantly there is going to be more short term biomass. That means more methane production. Much of which will not be able to be flared.

But true, this is the lesser impact.


Yes, but where does the largest emmision of N2O come from?

1. Agriculture
2. Fossil Fuel Combustion via Catalytic converters


Now Ozone from NOx emmisions, is both a potent greenhouse gas, and hazardous to human health.

And there are plenty of studies that show that increased use of high-blend biofuel would result in much higher levels of Ozone pollution (due to increased levels of NOx emmisions)

kit p

I am not sure what point GreyFlcn is trying to make, again ghg and smog are different issues. GreyFlcn is showing a serious lack of skill in understanding chemistry and the environment. N20 (from low temperature bacterial decay) is not considered NOx (high temperature combustion product) and does not cause smog but N20 is a ghg. There are many different oxides of both nitrogen and carbon. These different compounds have different physical and chemical properties.

So what do catalytic converters do: 2NOx → xO2 + N2

Our atmosphere is 78% N2.


Thermal depolymerization definately not Fisher tropsch synthesis - was confused for a second up there - just wasted the time to read all this....
Its just one company contacting another for what i would have considered to be good waste management and PR exercise.
One giant step for one industry, one tiny step for mankind. Food waste processing is hardly going to change the world.

Perhaps I'm jumping the gun, but if this is the best people are going to come up with Biofuels on the whole are going to loose - kept around for the phaseing out of the 'antique' combustion vehicles, that eventually become the domain of collectors and enthusiasts. Much like steam railways, in that they still much prefered in mens heart even if they are slow and ugly.

Harvey D.

Is it just a coincidence, that the country (Germany) with the most wind mills, is also the large industrial country that has reduced GHG the most since 1990?

One could safely say that large numbers of wind mills do have a very positive effect on reducing pollution and GHG.

P. Kit. Are sure that you are on the right track?

kit p

Yes Harvey, it is just a coincidence.

“The decline of the USSR and the end of the Cold War allowed for German unification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring Eastern productivity and wages up to Western standards”.

One of the solutions to transportation pollution was removing lead from gasoline. The West Germans were tracking a very favorable trend when suddenly road side lead level started increasing. It was all those POS from East Germany with out smog control.

Germany and other EU countries are providing leadership in biofuels. I have not looked at the ghg numbers for Germany but I have studied some of their technology. Look at Figure 1, http://www.epa.gov/agstar/pdf/2006digest.pdf to see a similar program has been effective in the US reducing ghg. Germany had already built 800 on farm anaerobic digesters.

David J Phillips

A rollout planned for Spring 2009? Although demand for renewable fuels is high, it is doubtful the diesel will be shipped and distributed through existing pipelines from ConocoPhillips refineries, by the aforementioned target date.


Rated capacity of 300 barrels a day suggests the Texas biodiesel refinery under construction is not on pace to be mechanically complete and ready to commence commercial scale production of renewable fuel by the first-half of 2009.


My Best,

David J Phillips
Contributing Energy Analyst

Kit P


Yes, David J Phillips is clueless and should pick another subject for shameless self promotion.

Ryan stock market prices for ConocoPhillips

Its great to see that Mr.David J Phillips gives a great conclusion.ConocoPhillips Stock Marketing

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