For Brian Appel—and, maybe, for an energy-hungry world—it's a dream come true, better than turning straw into gold. The thermal conversion process can take material more plentiful and troublesome than straw—slaughterhouse waste, municipal sewage, old tires, mixed plastics, virtually all the wretched detritus of modern life—and make it something the world needs much more than gold: high-quality oil.
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I heard about this company in 2004 and thought the idea was intriguing. I just saw the above article wander by on Digg.com. Yeah, it's an article from 2006, but it's still fascinating. I don't know if it could ever translate into an alternative energy source on a large scale. But it gives me hope that even if we burn up most of the available underground oil, it will still be possible to create enough oil for other important petroleum products that we take for granted, like plastics.
The company doing this is Changing World Technologies, Inc.