Thermal Depolymerization: Converting Food Waste into a Valuable Resource

A few years ago, a company tried an experiment in Philadelphia. They were looking for more efficient, less wasteful, and less hazardous ways to dispose of garbage. They found that, rather than incinerating, they could apply extreme pressure and heat to organic material in order to eviscerate its complex molecular bounds and produce a light, useful oil.


The process can break down organic poisons, due to breaking chemical bonds and destroying the molecular shape needed for the poison's activity. It is likely to be highly effective at killing pathogens, including prions.[citation needed] It can also safely remove heavy metals from the samples by converting them from their ionized or organometallic forms to their stable oxides which can be safely separated from the other products.

Along with similar processes, it is a method of recycling the energy content of organic materials without first removing the water. It can produce liquid fuel, which separates from the water physically without need for drying. Other methods to recover energy often require pre-drying (e.g. burning, pyrolysis) or produce gaseous products (e.g. anaerobic digestion).

The company that was producing and executing the theory was Changing World Technology.

Picture taken from Discover Magazine.

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