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Is this for real?

  1. Apr 22, 2003 #1
    The following article is from next month's Discover: Anything into Oil. I'd never heard of this process before reading that (in the print edition). Any thoughts?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2003 #2
    hmmm, tehcnically its possible. Everything is made from the same atoms and molecules, its just a matter of arrangement which makes them what they are! However im a bit sceptical whether our current technologic state as a race is high enough to do this :-/ it seems a bit like star-trek replicators and stuff!
     
  4. Apr 22, 2003 #3

    russ_watters

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    Smells like a hoax to me.
     
  5. Apr 23, 2003 #4
    Well, the idea that if you take some carbon-based gunk, heat it up, and pass it through some sort of separation process you'll be able to isolate it into its component parts is validated regularly by frustrated organic chemistry lab students worldwide.

    I'll believe it when I start seeing "This product produced from recycled turkey crap" on consumer products. I should state I just skimmed through the article, so take this with a grain of salt. Would have been nice if they would have cited some references on the basic process (if any exist). Alas.
     
  6. Apr 23, 2003 #5

    Integral

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    The process of sepreationg the hydrocarbons itself is not surprising, the hard part is doing it in such a manner that final energy density of the material out is GREATER then the energy required to reduce the input material. I do not count the energy content of the input material only the energy required to drive the process. Of course the total of process energy and energy content of the input material will be greater then the final materials energy content, put the key will be to use a minimum of energy to do the conversion. After all if it requires more energy to drive the process then you get out, what is the point?
     
  7. Apr 23, 2003 #6

    Monique

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    It is a very usual process to use animal by-products.. grind up the bones for gelatin, horns go into makeup, horse parts go into glue, tongue, ears etc get grinded into tasty burgers.. feathers go into animal food, etc. How many animals get slaughtered everyday? The waste has to go somewhere and they are pretty innovative in making it profitable.

    In the Netherlands we have some processed meat foods (really tasty btw) and the joke that always comes with it is in the lines of: what is the difference between a 'frikandel' and you? The 'frikandel' has brains.

    Want a good recipe? Look here:
    http://www.fao.org/ag/aga/agap/frg/AFRIS/gallery/aniprod1.htm

    Here more about animal ingredients:
    http://animal-ingredients.hypermart.net/chapter_3.htm
     
  8. Apr 23, 2003 #7
    Well, i don't see anything wrong in theory, but i am almost sure it will not be economically usefull (at the moment at least).

    Integral
    Actually, it depends on how they are making this.
    Suppose they are using the heat energy from a volcano to make this proccess, it will be very usefull, since you can drive your car with coumpounds from Oil, but can you do it with Lava ?
     
  9. Apr 23, 2003 #8

    russ_watters

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    There is a specific claim in there of 15% of the energy out being required for the transformation.
     
  10. Apr 23, 2003 #9
    I take it none of you had heard of this before reading that either?
     
  11. Apr 23, 2003 #10
    Depolymerizing what?

    I'm not an organic chemist nor am I a biochemist, so there's obviously something here I ain't getting. They keep using the term "depolymerization" or something like that. The only polymer to break apart that would be very abundant, I think, is proteins. It seems like the fatty acids are not being broken apart, as they mention that they end up with some 18-C chains, about like the longer fatty acids. And turkey waste would not have a LOT of polysaccharides, maybe just a little glycogen and some mucopolysaccharides.
    So, I'm considering the proteins. maybe high temp breaks the peptide bonds. Will it (high temp and high P) deaminate them? Then, what happens with the carboxyl groups? They can be reduced without too much trouble I think by reducing them to aldehydes and then to alcohols and on to hydrocarbons. But by just using high temp and high P in water? With my admittedly limited knowledge of that kind of chemistry, I can figure out how to maybe do it in steps, isolating products of one step, then reacting them with something else in a separate vessel, etc. These guys show it being done in at most three different vessels.
    Then I tried to see if things like monosaccharides could be cut down to hydrocarbons. I considered glucose, one aldehyde group and five alcohols on the same molecule (open, not ring, structure). I can see how acid-catalyzed dehydration could form an alkene, but then I run out of hydrogens to do another dehydration. If you add hydrogen to the double bond that is first formed (using hydrogen gas and nickel or platinum or some other metal), then another alcohol could then be removed in the same manner as the first one. But then, how is all of this accomplished in the same vessel? And, in an aqueous solution at high temp?
    I guess they are using some catalysts. The overall chemistry is reductions, after initially breaking some covalent bonds, so maybe there is only one or two catalysts. The only point I see where they could be using any enzymes is maybe at the very beginning, before they heat it up too much.
    This whole process looks to me like it couldn't be done that simply just by using high temp and high P. I tried that second link at the end of that article to try to find some of the chemistry, but nothing popped up. Can anybody point me in the right direction to where I can look at the reactions and maybe the mechanisms? Until then, I'm not going to buy any stock that's for sure.


    "A gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it"
    Mark Twain
     
  12. Apr 23, 2003 #11

    russ_watters

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    Transmutation hoaxes in general are nothing new, but this is a new transmutation hoax.
     
  13. Apr 24, 2003 #12
    Isn't Discover quite a respectible magazine so I would have thought they would have checked their facts first but it does sound too good to be true.
     
  14. Apr 24, 2003 #13

    russ_watters

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    Well you have to remember that most magazines including Discover exist for the sake of selling magazines, not conducting or analyzing science.
     
  15. Apr 28, 2003 #14
    Wow, if these guys aren't full of $hit, we could have a real economic break through. Key word-economic. Now im not an earth-preserving tree saver or anything like that, but aren't we trying to slow Global warming? I think that even though they are still a long way off, and perhaps require farless economic input than this Carbon re-organizer, that the 12 mil in tax money should have been granted to companies like General Electric and GM for their work with Fuel cells, or perhaps another industry. I'm not an environmentalist, but global warming is some Scary $hit. Perhaps this is a good short term investment, but this is only going to make pollution cheaper.

    P.S. Not to mention this will ruin the Oil industry.
     
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