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The TDP Way

Beakers of Oil

"Thermal depolymerization." No, it's not a code word for 'global warming.' But it IS a big buzz in alternative energy circles.

Also known as "TDP," it's a technology that mimics geothermal processes in nature. It converts biomass like plants and animal waste into oils, fertilizers, and other useful products.

Until recently, the process required more energy than it produced. But technological advances have made TDP economically feasible.

You see, in nature it takes millions of years to convert complex organic molecules into the simpler molecules that make up fossil fuels. TDP uses water, heat and pressure to replicate this conversion processin hours instead of millennia.

The world's largest TDP plant is in Carthage, Missouri. Built by Changing World Technologies, the plant converts waste from a nearby turkey processing plant into oil. The plant produces about 400 barrels per day.

While the name's not exactly catchy, this technology may have tremendous potential. According to Changing World, converting all U.S. agricultural waste into oil and gas would yield the energy equivalent of 4 billion barrels of oil each year.

Script by Randy Ringen

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