Plasma Gasification Raises Hopes of Clean Energy From Garbage

Discussion in 'Environment' started by daveman, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. daveman
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    daveman Diamond Member

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    Plasma Gasification Raises Hopes of Clean Energy From Garbage
    David Robau tours the country promoting a system that sounds too good to be true: It devours municipal garbage, recycles metals, blasts toxic contaminants and produces electricity and usable byproducts — all with drastic reductions in emissions.

    Mr. Robau, an environmental scientist for the Air Force, has been promoting a method that was developed with the Air Force to dispose of garbage with neither the harmful byproducts of conventional incineration nor the environmental impact of transporting and burying waste. It is one of several innovative techniques that the United States military has been researching to provide alternatives to the open-pit burns that some veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars say have made them ill.

    Already some waste companies and cities like New York have shown an interest in technology similar to what Mr. Robau has been promoting, known as plasma arc gasification. Proponents say the process can break chemical bonds and destroy medical waste, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), asbestos and hydrocarbons, some of which can be hazardous if disposed of in landfills or traditional mass-burn incinerators.​
     
  2. daveman
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    daveman Diamond Member

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    Air Power!

    This is an awesome technology.
     
  3. flacaltenn
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    flacaltenn USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Uh Daveman.. Plasma Arcs CONSUME vast amounts of power don't they? And gasification meaning conversion to Nat gas or Methane? The stuff we have so much of that the price is plummeting?

    There's a nagging voice inside telling me this is another garbage incinerator gambit..

    But -- we shouldn't DOUBT the UNITED STATES AIR FORCE --- should we? LOL.... (salutes.. )
     
  4. Mr. H.
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    Mr. H. Diamond Member

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    So, 10 tons a day just to maintain the system?
    Doesn't sound like a moneymaker.
     
  5. daveman
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    daveman Diamond Member

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    In the chamber, organic gases break down into hydrogen and carbon monoxide — the components of a fuel called synthesis gas, or syngas — which exits the furnace.

    --

    The gas passes through three types of filters to catch remaining impurities. The resulting syngas is as clean or cleaner than natural gas, and the system produces less than half the nitrogen oxides and 5 percent of the sulfur oxides and mercury of a traditional incinerator, Mr. Robau said. The Air Force uses the syngas to produce enough electricity to power the system.​
    The process provides its own fuel, for the cost of collecting the garbage. And the garbage doesn't have to be landfilled or burned in the traditional, polluting manner.
     
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  6. daveman
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    daveman Diamond Member

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    It's not intended to be a moneymaker, but a waste disposal system.

    Looking at this environmental award package, Hurlburt Field generates about 18 tons of garbage a day. But it will save the AF money:

    Pioneered the first Department of Defense (DoD)
    $7.5M plasma waste-to-energy plant to divert 2,700
    tons per year from the landfill by gasifying solid waste
    materials to eliminate all solid waste costs, generating
    electrical energy for its own power and offsetting
    83,000 tons per year of carbon dioxide​
     
  7. Mr. H.
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    Mr. H. Diamond Member

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    Well, that there is a win-win.

    I think the U.S. cranks out 200+ million tons of garbage per year.
     
  8. daveman
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    daveman Diamond Member

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    Indeed. The only downside I see is stated by the environmentalists in the article: Recycling may decrease. Of course, in the plasma arc cycle, all metals are recycled, but paper and plastic products are converted to syngas. But excess energy above that required by the process can be put on the grid.

    There's no reason this can't go full-scale, that I can see.

    As a technology buff, and as a welder who uses plasma to melt and fuse steel, I'm tickled to pieces about this. Especially since it's the Air Force leading the way. :)
     
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  9. alan1
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    alan1 USMB Mod Staff Member Supporting Member

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  10. percysunshine
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    percysunshine Gold Member

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    I ate a burrito with jalapenos last nite. This morning I had plasma gasification.
     

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