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Renewable Environmental Services installed more than twomillion dollars in equipment.
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This ozone scrubber has a tall stack and a blower to alleviate odors. The scrubber forces air emissions through packing material treated with an odor-killing chemical.
Offal into Oil
With all the fretting over America’s dependence on foreign oil, it might astonish you to learn that oil can be made from turkey guts. And it’s being done right here in Missouri.
Using technology called the Thermal Conversion Process (TCP), a plant operated by Renewable Environmental Solutions (RES) in Carthage is expediting the earth’s poky method of converting organic materials into fossil fuels.
RES receives daily deliveries of bones, guts, feathers, grease, and sludge from a nearby Butterball processing plant and a few other slaughterhouses. These gruesome ingredients are poured into a giant hopper, where a pressurized pipe feeds them into a grinder. The soupy mix then proceeds through a pair of reactors, where extreme pressure and heat break down the molecular chains and recombine them to form a type of fuel called renewable diesel. Brian Appel, chief executive officer of Changing World
Technologies, Inc., the company that co-founded RES as a joint venture with ConAgra Foods, which owns Butterball, says the plant produces twenty thousand gallons of oil each day.
“It’s an enormous win-win situation for us and the community,” Appel adds. “We’re taking locally generated waste and converting it into energy needed by local companies.”
Thermal conversion technology is also capable of converting junked car parts, municipal solid waste, and even raw sewage into oil, so it’s no surprise that scientists and the media are trumpeting it as a potential solution to America’s energy crisis.
Alas, the company’s success hasn’t smelled sweet to folks in Carthage. When it went into full production in 2005, residents couldn’t help but notice a nasty smell emanating from the facility. “It’s a very distinctive odor. It’s really something you can’t describe,” says City Administrator Tom Short. “Some people were getting sick and vomiting.”
The stench was so severe that the city attorney and the state attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit. RES upgraded its equipment to stifle the smell and, as part of last year’s settlement, paid one hundred thousand dollars in penalties.
TCP is in its infancy, Appel says, “so we’ve had a steep learning curve and some unanticipated teething pains associated with developing this brand-new technology.”
Short says RES has made a good-faith effort to clean up its act. The situation has improved significantly in the last two years, Short says, and if RES can do its thing without forcing residents to pinch their noses, he hopes it will succeed on a larger scale.
“Clearly there’s a need for another source of fuel,” he says, “so we’re not so dependent on foreign oil.”
The plant has brought sixty to seventy new jobs to Carthage and a substantial hike in the city’s property-tax revenues. The plant also sells high-grade fertilizers, useful to Missouri farmers, made from minerals that are TCP byproducts.