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The basic Thermal Conversion Process. Click to enlarge.

Changing World Technologies (CWT), developer of a non-combustion thermolytic deploymerization process for the conversion of organic waste into renewable diesel fuel oil and fertilizers (Thermal Conversion Process, TCP), has filed an S1 registration statement with the SEC for an IPO.

CWT currently operates a TCP production facility in Carthage, Missouri, that has the capacity to convert 78,000 tons of animal and food processing waste into approximately 4 - 9 million gallons of renewable diesel oil per year, depending on the feedstock mix used. The produced renewable diesel can be run as a straight, unblended low-sulfur fuel oil and has been EPA-approved as an additive in diesel fuel; full use as a transportation fuel will require upgrading.

The physical properties and qualities of the renewable diesel oil and fertilizers resulting from TCP, as well as the yields, will vary according to the type of organic waste used due to differing levels of moisture, density and composition of feedstock, according to the company. The current renewable diesel oil from the Carthage facility has a heat content approximately 9-10% below that of No. 2 heating oil (125,000 Btu/gallon vs. 137,000-139,000/gallon).

Using the current feedstock mix—waste from the adjacent ButterBall turkey plant—the Carthage facility produces approximately one gallon of liquid nitrogen concentrate fertilizer for every gallon of renewable diesel produced, and approximately three pounds of solid mineral phosphate fertilizer.

CWT sells the renewable diesel fuel oil produced at the Carthage facility as a fuel for the industrial boiler market, and sells its fertilizers to a number of farms in the Carthage area. During the three months ended 31 March 2008, it produced approximately 391,000 gallons of renewable diesel and sold approximately 93,000 gallons of renewable diesel. It began the sale of one of its fertilizers in the second quarter of 2008.

The company intends to use the proceeds of the IPO to support its expansion of TCP facilities to produce approximately 13 million to 54 million gallons of renewable diesel per year. It also intends to establish trap and low-value grease facilities that can convert from 150 to 600 tons of feedstock per day and produce 5 million to 19 million gallons of renewable diesel per year. It expects to locate future facilities near sources of feedstock.

The TCP process comprises four distinct steps to convert waste:

  • Preparation. Waste is prepared into a slurry by utilizing standard industrial conveyors, screening and grinding equipment. Once the slurry is prepared, it can either be transferred through a piping system into on-site storage tanks for later processing or immediately introduced into the process.

  • Separation of Organic and Inorganic Waste. The slurry is heated to a temperature of approximately 300°F and pressurized to 80 psig, in the first thermal reactor. This step breaks down organic matter and separates organic and inorganic materials contained in the slurry. The large mineral particles are removed at this stage and transferred to finished product separation where they are re-combined with the smaller particles.

  • Conversion of Organic Waste to Renewable Diesel. The organic liquid materials and small mineral particles are then piped to another thermal reactor and subjected to higher temperature and pressure (480°F and 600 psig). In this step, large polymers—i.e. cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, and proteins of biomass or organic waste—are broken down into smaller simpler molecules and hydrolyzed, creating a mixture of renewable diesel, nitrogen-rich water and small mineral particles.

    The combination of heat, pressure and time employed in this step assures that any pathogens contained in the waste are destroyed. Much of the heat energy applied in this step is recovered as waste heat from the subsequent conversion step, which is a key factor in the energy efficiency of the process.

  • Finished Product Separation. The mixture of renewable diesel, nitrogen-rich water and small mineral particles from the conversion step are separated using conventional separation equipment. First, the small mineral particles that were not removed during the earlier separation step are removed from the liquids by decanting. This phosphate and calcium rich solid mineral is recombined with the larger particles from the earlier separation step and stored for sale as our fertilizer. Next, the renewable diesel and nitrogen-rich water are separated using a centrifuge. The renewable diesel is piped into storage tanks and held for sale. The nitrogen rich water is further concentrated into our liquid fertilizer, which is piped into storage tanks.

CWT calculates TCP to be approximately 85% energy efficient (energy content of the end products divided by the sum of the energy content of the waste input and energy input).



This is apparently a similar process to that used by new plastic recycling centers. They avoid combustion by removing oxygen and use only the heat and pressure to break down complex polymers.

Building centers like this near to other organic feedstock waste streams makes a lot of sense. Especially in light of the rising cost of diesel fuel and the demand for more biodiesel from non-food feedstocks.


Man, these guys have traveled a long and winding road since the famous Discover magazine feature ("Anything into Oil") about a hundred years ago.

Henry Gibson

This is very good news. Perhaps now someone will do something to get rid of the massive waste lagoons at animal production facilities.

There is no reason to put organic materials into landfills and then go to great effort to control the methane produced.

Capstone microturbines could burn the fuel in a cogeneration unit without much difficulty. ..HG..

Brad Godfrey

Why did they only sell 93,000 gallons of the 391,000 it made?


Good question. The redundancy of the sentence suggests it's a typo. Unless the 10% thermal difference scares people.


The fact that they build a new plant indicates that their technology works (85% efficiency means an EROI of 6.5 which is quite good fo that type of conversion). However my understanding is that this technology only works for a limited variety of feedstock. It requires a a relatively fine tuning and can not accept the input feedstock to change frm one day to another. But in the case where you have a constant type of feedstock it seems to work quite well


Treehugger, why do you think it works only for a limited variety of feedstock. From what I read in the text, they can use any carbon source. Since it is not using enzymes, but 'simple' chemistry, I would think any source of organic waste can be used, in any combination. I would think you can even use a mixture of wood, plastic, paper, manure, old shoes, dead dogs, food waste, agricultural waste, ...
At that temperature, any organic molecule will 'depolymerize' to small molecules of interest.


"Why did they only sell 93,000 gallons of the 391,000 it made?"

CWT stated in their Discove rarticle that they were under an agreement with Butterball to use the light-sweet crude to power the turkey plant itself. I imagine that the turkey plant consumes just about 300,000 gal. per year to run it's power-plant.

Alain De Finnestrice

Treehugger is correct, Alain. The process used by CWT will not convert lignocellulosic wastes to fuels. At this time the only semi-efficient process for doing that is gasification followed by catalytic conversion. Coskata and others are trying to convert syngas to ethanol by fermentation, but the process is sketchy right now.


Alain De...

Thanks, that was my understanding, if this process was working for converting ligno-cellulose into fuel we would hear much more from it, plus people like BP or Shell wouldn't spend that much money in cellulosic ethanol.


All we need is the Doc's Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future, then we can throw anything in there we want :)

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