Wednesday, September 23, 2009

hydrocracking / hydropyrolysis / thermal depolymerization TDP

hydrocracking / hydropyrolysis / thermal depolymerization TDP are all very similar processes. All use heat and pressure to break any organic material be it plant, animal, any petroleum, tars and waste plastics. Some use a catalyst, to reduce the temperature and pressured required since these can be at high as 400C and 300 Bar ~4500 psi.
While these temperature and pressures sound like a lot, these pressures are found in Scuba Diving tanks, and hydraulic systems. And Steam engines have both these temperatures and pressures.

I'd love to talk with some Steam engine people because basically I think this chemical breakdown of material should occur with any organic matter left behind in a high pressure steam boiler.

(I just want to mention here that it is theoretically possible make heat and pressure exchanges that will conserve much of the energy used in a process like this. So it should be possible to build a machine that would only have a minimal amount of energy loss in the processing of these materials)

These organic materials breakdown to 3 things.
  • Carbon Black, and inorganic material (salts, etc)
  • Syngas (Carbon monoxide that burns in to CO2 and hydrogen that burns in to water)
  • Misc. hydrocarbons
Syngas can be further catalyzed in to oils, gasoline or other liquid fuels or just burned to drive a generator or other industrial process. Often it's just used to drive the pyrolysis process itself.

The last item hydrocarbons, being a mix of Oils, alcohols(if any oxygen is present in small quantities), and the lightest hydrocarbons being gases, such as butane, propane, methane etc.

It's my understanding the more breakdown the lighter the hydrocarbons will come out until there is nothing but syngas.

These are snippets from various E-mail discussions that I have been having on this subject.
Sorry some of this is disjointed.
I just realized that the east coast is full of wasted potential biofuel. The seasonal autumn leaves are just put in to land fills every year. My father was telling me about the recreational lakes in NJ are also cleaned of Algae that is just discarded or composted. Both of these can be directly turned in to diesel and gasoline!
Also there is tons of seaweed out in the surf off Goleta where I am living,(OK BAD IDEA, Beach hoppers eat this stuff and the Endangered Snowy Plover birds live on beach hoppers)  it covers the beaches and clogs the water, all of this is exactly what some people are trying to grow, and I just realized that it's possible to just harvest it right out of the water here. But equipment would need to be made to harvest the weeds, then extract and process the oils.

Leveious, William B.'s  plastic burner can really play in to something here.   His burner can drive hydropyrolysis or Pyrolytic conversion of waste plastic into synthetic diesel and syngas.
  I am told there is a continent size mass of garbage plastic floating in the middle of the pacific.

 It should be possible to modify a tanker ship to collect and then process this floating plastic garbage and algae in to sell able diesel and syngas right there on the spot while at sea then return to port with a full tanker of fuel to sell.

What happened to GRTECH?  I tried to e-mail William but he never responded.
I am thinking of making a low operating cost hydropyrolysis system for leaves, seaweed, lawn clippings and waste plastic.

It's already being done on garbage with something like 85% efficiency.
And that's including the preprocessing of material.
Dave B. felt he could build a small unit that could be run in a garage for a few thousand dollars. It would use reciprocating pistons to act as a pressure exchange and keep the pressure inside.
I still think an abandon well that's 2 miles deep would be the most efficient method.

Apparently the German gov is giving this guy some trouble.

pyrolysis / syngas (no water, outputs gas only)

Comment from friend Steve T:
Hey there, John:

Looked at all the videos, and it's funny that 5 of them focus on recycling old tires into oil, but the techniques would probably be usable on that Mid-Pacific Ocean plastic mess clean up idea.  Going
back to the very first two, though (the German invention that uses the top secret catalyst), I've got to wonder how much the "catalyst" costs to produce and, on all the systems (with the exception of the solar), the costs and feasibility of heating up the chopped up/post-turbine trash - like I pointed out with the corn-based ethanol, if you attempted to power the heating process from the ethanol derived from the process, you would have to use up 100% of the generated product PLUS an additional .29% gasoline or some other fuel above the 100% generated product just to power the process, which makes no sense.  If
these things have similar problems, they're not practical, but no one is giving any numbers in any of the videos.
P.S. The German government are morons to screw with the guy over his idea.  But then, the U.S. does the same nonsense - the whole 3G cell phone network was an American-originated idea, but the inventors caught such crap over it that they sold it to the Chinese.

P.P.S. By the way, the emphasis on tires in 5 of the videos reminded me of a cheap eco-friendly house building technique called "earthships".  An earthship really is just a cheap house built out of
recycled tires, and there's a whole bunch of them in New Mexico.  If you're curious, here's a few links (I find tire-based earthships interesting, but with the collapse of the housing market, and with my
stack of cheap real estate tracking programs, I can always find a decent existing house that would be cheaper than building one of these, so I'll probably never actually build one of these):

Steve K.,

     Both John Sokol and Daniel M. are interested in processes to produce liquid fuel from natural gas/bio mass, etc.--any comments or info. relating to this and the link below will be appreciated.    thanks, later, David B.

HMF, also known as 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, can be used as a building block for plastics and "biofuels" such as gasoline and diesel, essentially the same fuels processed from crude oil. In previous work, PNNL researchers used a chemical and a solvent known as an ionic liquid to convert the simple sugars into HMF.
The chemical, a metal chloride known as chromium chloride, converted sugar into highly pure HMF. But to be able to feed cellulosic biomass directly from nature, the team still needed to break down cellulose into simple sugars -- Zhang and colleagues wanted to learn how to skip that step.
HMF as a fuel is hydrogen insufficient i.e., has about half as much as gasoline.
HMF is a solid and soluble in water.
HMF catalyst is like the product(s), amenable to batch processing at best around boiling water temp.

A good fuel scenario would be to dissolve HMF in Methanol for fuel delivery; kicking the charge off
with Hydrogen made catalytically from Methanol on board would work efficiently, economically and
atmospherically.  Likewise, if Ethanol could be made from fermenting the other 40% unconverted
product, such Ethanol could be run through the same catalyst on board.  Methanol is relatively
inexpensive and I have access to a beta catalytic unit for confirmatory experimentation natural gas
trials.  However, if cellulosic HMF & Ethanol (in wet solution) could be used as a fuel (with catalytically
generated Hydrogen from Ethanol for the kick) vehicle fuel cost would be nil, only Cat. unit investment?

Steve K.

When I have more time I will organize my thought on this better and post something with more information that is cleaner.


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  2. The pyrolysis reactionthat is usually the first chemical is produced by the combustion of solid fuels, many organic materials such as wood, cloth and paper, and certain types of plastic.

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