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More on Thermal Depolymerization

My entry on thermal depolymerization has engendered more comments than any other entry of mine to date -- 23 as of this writing. There seems to be fairly serious disagreement about the practicality of the technology and whether the claims made for it are entirely true.

The company behind this version of thermal depolymerization is Changing World Technologies of West Hempstead, New York. I couldn't find any technical information their site more detailed than what was in the Discover article, but one story on their site mentioned "scientist Paul Baskis." A USPTO search turned up the following patents for Paul T. Baskis:

6,109,123 Rotational inertial motor
5,825,839 Method and apparatus for converting radioactive materials to electrical energy
5,543,061 Reforming process and apparatus
5,360,553 Process for reforming materials into useful products and apparatus
5,269,947 Thermal depolymerizing reforming process and apparatus
The first patent, 5,269,947, would seem to be the critical one:
I'm not a chemist by any stretch of the imagination, so I'm hoping that others more knowledgeable than me will investigate these patents and report back on what they find.


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Thank you so much for your bloodhound research on the patent origins of CWT's thermal depolymerization process. I am an inventor / entrepreneur with some ideas to use this proccess for new businesses but I haven't been successful in getting CWT to respond to any of my inquiries. They seem to be fixated on only large scale applications of this proccess and state on their website that smaller scale uses are at least 5 years away. That' s unfortunate because if the process works as stated every small village, town or city in the world could use this technology to in a variety of eco positive ways. This is exiting stuff! What a great way to clean of the world from the ugliness of our trash producing consumer society.

Yes, thanks for the research. I too have expended much time in searching for polymerization related info online with little of any direct relevance found. I concur that CWT is 'holding' info 'close to the chest'. NASA has some deploymerization application research
ongoing. http://www.nasa.gov/nasagov/search/search.jsp?nasaInclude=depolymerization

Also see http://es.epa.gov/ncer_abstracts/sbir/other/hazsolid/sari.html

I find it 'curious' that these actors have been on the TDP path since at least 1999 and have presented zero per review articles/analysis. There is a high probablity they have a 'reason' but ascribing motives at this point would be premature. Time will tell if this is 'worth' the hype. Oh- and my 'expertise' is

Ophs! hit "post" prematurely

. . .

Academic and industry background in Process Design and Biosystem Engineering.

Multidisciplinary Ph.D. in Life Sciences with
post-doc research in controlled environmental life support systems (CELSS) and multitrophic (bio)process engineering (integrated agriculture applications).

Energy flows in biology is a discipline in-and-of itself and not my particular 'expertise'. However, Newtonian physics is still Newtonian physics (last I heard). And, analytical chemistry (organic or inorganic) is still chemisty. The established precepts of neither can be easily overturned or disregarded. Certainly not by consequence of a singular popular press article such as the one that has precipitated the current foment.

Maybe the reason they are not giving out all of their data is because they are engineers developing a commercial process and not researchers working out a theory. Neither Henry Ford or the Wright Brothers were willing to reveal all they knew about their revolutionary developments until their own businesses were secure. These guys aren't out looking for peer review and approval, they want to make money, which is one reason why I am hoping it is workable.

Yes, Scott, it IS exciting! Would love to try and build one in my backyard! Well, maybe not :^)
But it would sure solve a lot of problems....
Can't open you website.. (usepages?)
Where are you located?

I'm hoping, as the article seems to suggest, that this process can be refined and reduced to a much smaller scale- I'm thinking about a household "garbage disposal" appliance that would provide supplemental amounts of diesel-type fuel for use in the family vehicle?
I have curbside recycling service now, that I have to pay for (!!!), I'd like to use my (otherwise discarded) plastic containers for something a little more personally rewarding.

Actually the patent from 1994, the one above the TDP patent, is probably more significant. That is the slurry to volatile gas idea, that contains the "key" idea of rapid depressuriziation. Lots of people do depolymerization, but they have to have near-laboratory conditions and clean plastics to start with. It's the 1994 patent by Baskis that explains how a dirty slurry becomes useful volatile gases and oils. Or so he proposed. Recall that U.S. Patents are not entirely easy to get -- you have to show something like what you claim, at least.

Kathy H.
Lancaster, California

We've a lot of tires out there that they have charged us to $2.00 a piece to haul off.

They are keeping the information close to their chest because there are so many millions of small-scale scientists who they don't have the time to talk to. They have absolutely no reason to talk to anybody with less than 100 million bucks in the bank...and neither would I in their shoes.

In this case "the little guys" aren't going to matter much, I'm afraid. This is going to be a large-scale process from day 1.

By the way, small-scale processes are almost never worth the time and effort...economically impractical, which is why we don't have mini oil refineries in our backyards, nor will we EVER have mini electrical generating plants in our basements (as some pundits have suggested).

Large scale production has a 3-to-1 cost advantage for any process, regardless of the underlying physics or chemistry.

If the CWT process can be scaled and engineered, then in...oh, maybe 10 years you will start seeing major rollout. That's how long it takes to fully perfect and engineer an industrial process of this sort.

Say, 30 years to full rollout in US society. Personally I'd love to see parallel rollouts overseas.

Lovely concept, and personally I'd give my right arm to work with CWT to do it. Would be a good career. But anybody wanting to do this needs to be pretty patient.

thanks to Frank for starting this topic...

I agree with PhilX - I would like to see development overseas as well! Can we see more commentary from those who have experimented with the thermal depolymerization process? I also want to say thanks for the research on the patent origins of CWT's thermal depolymerization process. I am an entrepreneur in Australia interested in hearing from like-minded others who would want to join a consortium.

how many investors did mr baskis "woo" into investing in this process to get it to this point?


The good comments on a theme are in the patent of USA 6,387,221

I beleive this proces should be given a higher priority than either the Manhatten project or the Appollo project. This procces of thermal depolymerization could not only free us from the middle east insane addiction to Oil but also solve many enviromental problems associated with landfills and industrial pollution.

my but this looks interesting. What is the latest
on this process. Is the turkey ofal plant currently
operating and if so how well is it working?
Hope springs e....

There is a demonstration facility operating at a Butterball Turkey processing plant in Carthage MO. It it said to be producing 600 barrels of light oil(same as home heating oil) per day from the turkey waste.

We can hope!

I have to admit that the first time I read the article in Discover magazine last spring I had trouble sleeping that night. The implications are mind boggling, especially if it is scalable, even if only down to the size of a flatbed truck. Last I heard, the plant at the Butterball Turkey processing plant was to go online in July, despite reports that it was going to do so, or had even done so, earlier in the spring. I have not heard anything new since about June. I, too, found the patent information in May and found it interesting reading. I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has heard any new, credible info on it.

I used to work in a refinery lab, and my boss went to go work for these guys. I know if the science wasn't sound he would of stayed where he was. I wish I could work for them too. Perhaps they will franchise the process. The USA desperately needs this process to replace the foreign oil exports and clean up the environment here and abroad. Let's watch the politicians. If they can't support such a process than perhaps they don't have America's best interest at heart. Every major city in America should have this process working.

here's a bit more recent news. Maybe he'll give some info when he gets the award:

October 21, 2003
West Hempstead, NY ¾ Changing World Technologies (CWT) has been named the 2003 Innovative Business of the Year by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Brian S. Appel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Changing World Technologies, will accept the honor at the Small Business Excellence Awards on Friday, November 21, 2003.
As a result, ConAgra Foods, one of North America’s largest packaged food companies, entered into an environmental technology agreement to commercialize the waste conversion system.
“Our first commercial plant is going through start-up shakedown at ConAgra’s Butterball Turkey facility in Carthage, Missouri. ConAgra believes as we do that CWT’s Thermal

The financial cost incentive of large-scale production is undeniable. However I am more interested in the social and environmental costs. These are the costs most often discounted for larger economies of scale. Just because we don't count them doesn't mean that something else (ie biosphere) isn't.

I read the article last spring in Discover and was exhilarated. This is something that could impact the Northeast and Midwest as dramatically as air conditioning did the South.

When a cheap means of coal gassification is added to the pie, this means total energy independence in the next 10 years. What of balance of payments and trade deficit when oil imports are eliminated ? What of manufacturing costs when the cost of energy is dramatically reduced ? We could see a boom coming that could make the 1945-1973 golden age look like a recession.

The economies of scale make large buildings profitable. The skyscraper and the large apartment complex could be energy self-sufficient. One could see entire housing communities build around recycleable waste and thereby boasting lower utility bills for the residents.

I've heard that the United States is the "Saudi Arabia of coal," meaning that we have about 25% of the world's coal supply. Does anyone know if this thermal depolymerization process could be used to convert coal into an oil that can be refined to gasoline?

"I've heard that the United States is the "Saudi Arabia of coal," meaning that we have about 25% of the world's coal supply. Does anyone know if this thermal depolymerization process could be used to convert coal into an oil that can be refined to gasoline?"

I wouldn't do that. Coal ia 'free' fossil fuel and doesnt' need to be converted into fossil fuel. In relative terms oil and gas cost about 4x as much as coal and synthetic fuel made through the TDP process costs about 2x as much as coal per BTW.

On the other hand, quite a bit of the coal in the US is high-sulphur which requires energy producers to scrub the waste gas to remove sulphur byproducts. Soemthing similar to TDP could be used to remove the sulphur prior to burning it.

Wonderful comments. Can anyone tell me if the process has actually been tested on tar sands and coal?

If it is really true that their process turns 85% of turkey gut btus/calories into fuel while using 15% btus/calories in the process, then, would coal and tar sands, in theory, convert to fuel in the same ratio?

Wonderful comments. Can anyone tell me if the process has actually been tested on tar sands and coal?

If it is really true that their process turns 85% of turkey gut btus/calories into fuel while using 15% btus/calories in the process, then, would coal and tar sands, in theory, convert to fuel in the same ratio?

Wonderful comments. Can anyone tell me if the process has actually been tested on tar sands and coal?

If it is really true that their process turns 85% of turkey gut btus/calories into fuel while using 15% btus/calories in the process, then, would coal and tar sands, in theory, convert to fuel in the same ratio?

How well does it handle heavy metals?

CWT's process does not handle radioactive materials at all: The radiation contaminates the pressure vessels. However non-radiactive metals are centrifuged out of the mixture after the 2nd stage cooking process is complete and are sent to a recycling facility for further separation. The "product", biodiesel and medium-quality synthetic gas, are completely solid-free.

Different feedstocks produce different ratios of products so that the 'energy yield' might be more than 85% in some cases and less in others. Coal would produce mostly carbon black and coke which are little changed from the original material (except that they are purified forms of carbon). I don't think the energy yield would be quite so high.

Well with oil hitting $42/bbl and gasoline hitting $2.25/gal interest in alternative fuels is reaching new highs. Stories about burning used vegetable cooking oil and reclaiming methane from landfills are hitting the internet. Also a dairy farm that is using what appears to be TDP although that term was not mentioned. I checked CWT's site and there has been nothing new posted there in months.

If this is for real I hope somebody gets off their duffs and gets the ball rolling.

I read you can use it on coal, it takes all the sulfur and all the other stuff out too . . . . you get ultra-pure coal and salable stuff . . . COOL! and supposedly you can use it on PVC, but the dioxin-stuff you get combines with water= hydrochloric acid. Usable, dangerous (well all acids are dangerous) but I mean, dioxin is VERY dangerous. Plus you get oil too. I think if you want this in your backyard the best way is probably either learn or figure out how to mke one, then wait until the patent expires and you don't need their permission. Then build it, because it's not that you won't get permission, you just won't even get time to ASK about haveing permission. Like I think somebody said already.

I am deeply involved in research of this product. Not because I'm a businessman, but because I am a high school debater with the NCFCA, and thermo depolymerization is what I am researching for an affirmative case. This technology is an excellent idea, and if properly privatized and encouraged could explode on the scene. Some of the drawbacks are that it only creats numbers 2 and 4 oil (heating and diesel-grade crude), and currently there is a certain singed-hair stench that allegedly eminates from the Missourri plant that decreases property value, etc.
However, one thing I have not been able to find is when or how the patent expires. Any answers?

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