fumanchewd
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No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:10 am

I remember as a child how big a deal it was when the state wanted to open a landfill near my families' house. All of the NIMBY's jumped on the bandwagon and drove the proposal into the ground, whilst consuming and discarding more then their share. I am also sadly aware of the growing amounts of garbage that our society produces and the problems that are arising, as in NYC.

I was estatic to see in this month's Popular Science an article about Plasma Arc Gasification. I hope that the state and local governments find this technology to be safe and implement it as soon as possible.

The entire thing takes up about as much space as a two-car garage, surprisingly compact for a machine that can consume nearly any type of waste—from dirty diapers to chemical weapons—by annihilating toxic materials in a process as old as the universe itself. Called plasma gasification, it works a little like the big bang, only backward (you get nothing from something). Inside a sealed vessel made of stainless steel and filled with a stable gas—either pure nitrogen or, as in this case, ordinary air—a 650-volt current passing between two electrodes rips electrons from the air, converting the gas into plasma. Current flows continuously through this newly formed plasma, creating a field of extremely intense energy very much like lightning. The radiant energy of the plasma arc is so powerful, it disintegrates trash into its constituent elements by tearing apart molecular bonds. The system is capable of breaking down pretty much anything except nuclear waste, the isotopes of which are indestructible. The only by-products are an obsidian-like glass used as a raw material for numerous applications, including bathroom tiles and high-strength asphalt, and a synthesis gas, or “syngas”—a mixture of primarily hydrogen and carbon monoxide that can be converted into a variety of marketable fuels, including ethanol, natural gas and hydrogen.

Perhaps the most amazing part of the process is that it’s self-sustaining. Just like your toaster, Startech’s Plasma Converter draws its power from the electrical grid to get started. The initial voltage is about equal to the zap from a police stun gun. But once the cycle is under way, the 2,200˚F syngas is fed into a cooling system, generating steam that drives turbines to produce electricity. About two thirds of the power is siphoned off to run the converter; the rest can be used on-site for heating or electricity, or sold back to the utility grid. “Even a blackout would not stop the operation of the facility,” Longo says.

“The bottom line is that nobody wants a landfill in their backyard,” Nuzzi tells me. New York City is already paying an astronomical $90 a ton to get rid of its trash. According to Startech, a few 2,000-ton-per-day plasma-gasification plants could do it for $36. Sell the syngas and surplus electricity, and you’d actually net $15 a ton. “Gasification is not just environmentally friendly,” Nuzzi says. “It’s a good business decision.”


http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science...c0110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html
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bill142
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 11:35 am

How developed is the technology? it does look like a good idea. and is this syngas dangerous should it leak?
 
galapagapop
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:17 pm

This is similar to the thermal ovens that would burn all things into their elements (This is how the sun keeps on chugging along). The problem has goes with the saying "What do you use to hold and acid that eats through everything?"

Currently such idea require advanced magnetic fields to be put into place to help control the the process. Magnetic fields for the use of controlling the paths of electrons and matter are still very much in their infancy, resulting in bulky use and lots of engery consumption, but it is a good way to go.
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 1:32 pm

Well, Beam Me Up Scotty.

That does sound interesting.

How advanced is the technology? And what's the cost of each "incinerator"?

We all know the oil companies have us by the cahones as far as use of Oil, what would the waste management companies do should the world decide to go with this technology.

Lastly, it sounds too good to be true. Instant destruction of waste into a useable gas. And you know what is always said about things that "sound too goo to be true". They very often are . . .

What's the catch?
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casinterest
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:14 pm

Quoting ANCFlyer (Reply 3):
Lastly, it sounds too good to be true. Instant destruction of waste into a useable gas. And you know what is always said about things that "sound too goo to be true". They very often are . . .

Take a moment to think of what some of the major components of garbage are.....

Paper, Plastic and Food waste.

Garbage is an energy source.

What this guy is doing is using the plasma arc to highly seperate the molecular components.

If it yields this syn gas and glass material, it will be a good tool.

As people in the article point out, there are some environmental concerns about the bi products of these materials, but then again, there are concerns about landfills in General.

They appear to want to charge 250 million for a device that can handle 2000 tons a day. That's pretty steep, but as some people have stated, places like DC, Boston, and NYC are increasingly paying more to dump their garbage. If these things can add to the grid and get rid of garbage, they will probably be selling like Hot cakes in a few years.
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MCOflyer
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:24 pm

Call me skippy, this a bold idea. It could help out the trash dump problems. But would tax payers want to spend 250million dollars?

MCOflyer
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ANCFlyer
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 2:27 pm

Quoting CasInterest (Reply 4):
They appear to want to charge 250 million for a device that can handle 2000 tons a day. That's pretty steep, but as some people have stated, places like DC, Boston, and NYC are increasingly paying more to dump their garbage. If these things can add to the grid and get rid of garbage, they will probably be selling like Hot cakes in a few years.

I concur, if they perform as advertised I think they ought to be mandatory everywhere.

I'm not a "doubting Thomas". Just someone who has been around enough to know that the "sure thing" often is not. hence my questions.

Other than the Paper, Plastic, Food Waste products, you've got the batteries, acids, wood, glass, yadda, yadda, yadda. Do these items, when exposed to this gizmo, reduce to nothing as well?

The SynGas could be an extremely valuable asset . . . . if it can be readily reduced/converted to Ethanol.

Much potential here.
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RJdxer
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 3:31 pm

[At a gun store]
The Terminator: Phased-plasma rifle in the forty watt range.
Pawn Shop Clerk: Hey, just what you see, pal.

courtesy of IMDB
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fumanchewd
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 5:12 pm

Quoting ANCFlyer (Reply 6):
Other than the Paper, Plastic, Food Waste products, you've got the batteries, acids, wood, glass, yadda, yadda, yadda. Do these items, when exposed to this gizmo, reduce to nothing as well?

The system is capable of breaking down pretty much anything except nuclear waste, the isotopes of which are indestructible.

The Vietnamese government is considering buying one to get rid of stockpiles of Agent Orange that the U.S. military left behind after the war.

In 1997 the U.S. Army became Startech's inaugural customer, buying a converter to dispose of chemical weapons at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. A second reactor went to Japan for processing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, an industrial coolant and lubricant banned in the U.S since 1977 ("really nasty stuff," Longo says).

To achieve this adaptability, Startech converters crank the plasma arc up to an extremely high operating temperature: 30,000¢ªF. Getting that temperature just right was one of Longo¡¯s key developmental challenges. ¡°You can¡¯t rely on the customer to tell you what they put in,¡± Longo says. ¡°Sometimes they don¡¯t know, sometimes they lie, and sometimes they¡¯ve thrown in live shotgun shells from a hunting trip. That¡¯s why it¡¯s imperative that the Plasma Converter can take in anything.¡±


Quoting MCOflyer (Reply 5):
But would tax payers want to spend 250million dollars?

"This technology eliminates the landfill, which is 80 percent of our costs," Nuzzi says. "And we can use it to generate fuel at the back end," adds Marazzo, who then asks Lynch if the converter can handle chunks of concrete (answer: yes). "The bottom line is that nobody wants a landfill in their backyard," Nuzzi tells me. New York City is already paying an astronomical $90 a ton to get rid of its trash. According to Startech, a few 2,000-ton-per-day plasma-gasification plants could do it for $36. Sell the syngas and surplus electricity, and you'd actually net $15 a ton. "Gasification is not just environmentally friendly," Nuzzi says. "It's a good business decision."

His company, which touts the slogan "waste destruction at the speed of lightning with energy to share," is negotiating a deal with St. Lucie County, Florida, to erect a $425-million plasma gasification system near a local landfill. The plant in St. Lucie County will be large enough to devour all 2,000 tons of daily trash generated by the county and polish off an additional 1,000 tons a day from the old landfill.

None of this seems to worry St. Lucie County's solid-waste director, Leo Cordeiro. "We'll get all our garbage to disappear, and our landfill will be gone in 20 years," he tells me. The best part: Geoplasma is footing the entire bill. "We'll generate 160 megawatts a day from the garbage," Hillestad says, "but we'll consume only 40 megawatts to run the plant. We'll sell the net energy to the local power grid." Sales from excess electricity might allow Geoplasma to break even in 20 years.

In New York, Carmen Cognetta, an attorney with the city council's infrastructure division, is evaluating how plasma gasification could help offset some of the city's exorbitant waste costs. "All the landfalls around New York have closed, incinerators are banned, and we are trucking our trash to Virginia and Pennsylvania," he explains. "That is costing the city $400 million a year. We could put seven or eight of these converters in the city, and that would be enough." The syngas from the converters, Cognetta says, could be tapped for hydrogen gas to power buses or police cars. But the decision-making bureaucracy can be slow, and it is hamstrung by the politically well-connected waste-disposal industry. "Many landfill operators are used to getting a million dollars a month out of debris," says U.S. Energy's Paul Marazzo. "They don't want a converter to happen because they'll lose their revenue."


I am still skeptical as well. Especially from Popular Mechanics or Popular Science which both grab at every hypothetical scientific idea. But they do have working machines, current orders, possible US orders being considered by the bureaucrats, and the government currently operating one!  Wow! Pretty impressive. I hope that they find it to be safe.
In the time of chimpanzees, I was a monkey...
 
kbfispotter
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 5:38 pm

Quoting MCOflyer (Reply 5):
But would tax payers want to spend 250million dollars?

Yet they are willing to spend at least that much on a stadium that gets little use throughout the year?

Kris
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jafa39
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Wed Feb 28, 2007 5:41 pm

Well if i ran a country I'd get one and if it worked half as well as planned I'd pull 250 mil out of the miltary budget and get stuck into it.

Hell, you could dig up old landfills and zap the contents!!

You could use them instead of crematoriums and people could turn their rellies into paperweights!

Poo's and wee's could be zapped in mini versions so all your household garbage could go down the crapper-zapper!

I hereby declare this to be the best thing since....hmmm.........Beer!!!
We, the undersigned, do hereby consent.....
 
bill142
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:15 am

Quoting Jafa39 (Reply 10):
people could turn their rellies into paperweights!

Finally a good use for the mother in law  Silly
 
Blackbird
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:09 am

Oops, posted twice

Andrea Kent

[Edited 2007-03-02 23:12:16]
 
Blackbird
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sat Mar 03, 2007 7:09 am

It would unfortunately also develop a means for a perfect murder. No evidence.

Andrea K
 
bagpiper
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sat Mar 03, 2007 11:07 am

Quoting Jafa39 (Reply 10):
Well if i ran a country I'd get one and if it worked half as well as planned I'd pull 250 mil out of the miltary budget and get stuck into it.

Hell, you could dig up old landfills and zap the contents!!

You could use them instead of crematoriums and people could turn their rellies into paperweights!

Poo's and wee's could be zapped in mini versions so all your household garbage could go down the crapper-zapper!

I hereby declare this to be the best thing since....hmmm.........Beer!!!

Thanks for making me laugh my butt off for the day  Smile





Edited for spelling - maybe I'll come back being able to speell next time.

[Edited 2007-03-03 03:08:25]
 
N1120A
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:26 am

Quoting Bill142 (Reply 1):
and is this syngas dangerous should it leak?

Quite possibly because it contains CO, but if they can contain it and convert it, that would be a very positive thing.

Quoting MCOflyer (Reply 5):
But would tax payers want to spend 250million dollars?

I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to spend that money on something like ths.
Mangeons les French fries, mais surtout pratiquons avec fierte le French kiss
 
jafa39
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sun Mar 04, 2007 6:31 am

Quoting MCOflyer (Reply 5):
But would tax payers want to spend 250million dollars?

They spend 6 times that a year on defence budgets and don't get a choice............
We, the undersigned, do hereby consent.....
 
flyf15
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sun Mar 04, 2007 8:29 am

Alright, so what we have here is a machine that essentially burns everything into a glassy substance. Simple enough.

But, I'm a little confused about something... trash consists of dozens and dozens of various elements. Molecules can destroyed, but elements don't just "go away" in the absense of nuclear (fission of fusion) reactions. In the end, you're still going to have the same elements you started with, just in a different physical form. This shouldn't be a problem for most of trash... its mostly made of things like Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, etc. Easily handled elements. But, there are lots of very common trashes made of metals, rare or dangerous elements (ie: batteries), elements that are only safe in their current form, etc. Table salt is Sodium Cloride.. no big deal, but will this machine create clouds of Chlorine gas by breaking up the molecules? That would be a big deal. You're going to end up with a nasty gas full of all kinds of substances, and glass bricks with everything from carbon to platinum and mercury in them. Burning things doesn't always make things better also, you can take two very benign substances, burn them together, and they'll rearrange into some particularly nasty things.

All in all, it just doesn't make sense. Unless you're creating a nuclear reaction, elements don't just GO AWAY.
 
jafa39
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sun Mar 04, 2007 3:32 pm

Quoting Flyf15 (Reply 17):
elements don't just GO AWAY.

True but i suppose the glass bricks will be easy to bury on the seabed and relatively stable, perhaps completely stable...
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scbriml
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RE: No More Garbage? Plasma Arc Gasification!

Sun Mar 04, 2007 5:34 pm

Quoting Blackbird (Reply 13):
It would unfortunately also develop a means for a perfect murder. No evidence.

Not sure how it is in the US, but here it is possible to be convicted of murder without a victim's body.

With the state of forensic science these days, anyone who thinks they can leave "no evidence" is likely to have a nasty surprise.
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