Changing World Technologies

24th September 2006

I was in Santa Barbara last week for a business conference. Nice town. Plenty of palm trees and & sail boats. Inland I walked through several groves of eucalyptus trees. I love the smell of eucalyptus trees. There’s a natal memory there that goes to the groves in Golden Gate Park up in San Francisco.

Santa Barbara is a prosperous town. The conference I attended was at Fess Parker’s Double Tree Hotel. League sanctioned frisbee teams played in the green field across the street. A sign by the field said “Reused water. Don’t drink.” –Or something to that effect. I didn’t check — but likely they were using cleaned up sewage water — to water the grass.

There’s a much better way to handle sewage now days. Its called thermal depolymerization. The process turns raw sewage and darn near anything that’s carbon based–into diesel fuel. The company with the most experience with this procedure is Changing World Technologies. They have a demo plant in Philadelphia which turns sewage into oil and a profitable plant in Missouri that processes turkey offals into oil.
I’ve been following this company since 2003 when Discover Magazine first wrote them up. Discover Magazine returned this year in their April 2006 edition with an update on the company which showed they had pulled the bugs out of their technology and made it profitable. According to this April press release:

Changing World Technologies’ waste-to-oil subsidiary, Renewable Environmental Solutions, shipped more than 250,000 gallons (6000 barrels) of renewable diesel fuel in April 2006, representing approximately 30% of the plant’s capacity. The plant is expected to achieve full capacity in the near future.

The technology is touted for its ability to turn waste into oil for a profit — so that –say–a municipal sewage plant could be turned into a profit center rather than a cost center.

There’s a kicker. What’s left over from this procedure is clean pure water.

The technology received Federal Tax Credits of $1@gallon or equal to those of ethanol. But the technology only receives state tax credits from California, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. It would be helpful if the rest of the states came on board.

There is no town in the southwest of the USA that should be without one of these plants to convert their raw sewage into oil and fresh water.

On the flight back from Santa Barbara I picked up a copy of this month’s Discover Magazine which featured an interview with Newt Gingrich. He makes the same points that I made in Computer Power in 5-10 years, The Golden Age of Math, and Nanotechnology’s Future. That is, not only is technology advancing quickly now. The pace of advancement is accelerating significantly.

Discover Magazine Interview with Newt Gingrich
Oct 2006
subscriber only

Q: You have predicted a fourfold to sevenfold increase in scientific discovery in the next 25 years. What does that mean?

Gingrich: I began thinking of the fact that you have more scientists alive now than in all of previous human history. You have better instrumentation and computation. The scientists are connected by email and cell phone. And they are connected by lisencing to venture capital and royalties — and to China and India as reserve centers of production. Put all that together and it leads to dramatically more science than we have ever seen before. And if you get a breakthrough in quantum computing then you’re in a totally different world. My instinct as a historian is that four is probably right. I used that figure when I spoke to the National Academy of Sciences working group in computation and information, and afterwards the head of the group said to me, “That’s too small a number.” He said its got to be at least seven. What it means is that if you have a planning committee looking out to 2031, and you’re going to have four times as much change, that puts you in position of someone in 1880 trying to imagine 2006. If you are going to have a seven times as much change, that puts you in 1660. And nobody understands that.


  1. […] would increase the output of greenhouses  turning algae to biodiesal significantly. (Same goes for thermal depolymerization.) Further, solar panels mentioned here will come onstream next fall at 1/10 current costs to […]

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  2. […] sewage to oil profitably. (Wiki gives more background here. Last fall I blogged about the matter here.) The byproduct is water. There is a working plant in Missouri and a test plant in Philadelphia. […]

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  3. […] would increase the output of greenhouses turning algae to biodiesal significantly. (Same goes for thermal depolymerization.) Further, solar panels mentioned here will come onstream next fall at 1/10 current costs to […]

    Pingback by Making Biofuel from Pond Scum with Fresh Water Byproduct | Water Power R&D — February 13, 2010 @ 5:17 pm

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