Increasing interest is focusing on plasma-assisted gasification applied to the treatment of municipal solid waste (MSW), especially as it may be a new way to increase Waste-to-Energy (WTE) worldwide. Plasma technology has been used for a long time for surface coating and for destruction of hazardous wastes but its application to MSW has not been explored. A Technology that may be called “plasma-assisted gasification” in a WTE process that combines the use of plasma with partial oxidation of the hydrocarbons in MSW.
Relatively high voltage, high current electricity is passed between two electrodes, spaced apart, creating an electrical arc. Inert gas under pressure is passed through the arc into a sealed container of waste material, reaching temperatures as high as 13,900 °C in the arc column. The temperature a few feet from the torch can be as high as 2,760–4,427 °C. At these temperatures, most types of waste are broken into basic elemental components in a gaseous form, and complex molecules are separated into individual atoms. This arc breaks down waste primarily into elemental gas and solid waste (slag), in a device called a plasma converter. The process has been intended to be a net generator of electricity, depending upon the composition of input wastes, and to reduce the volumes of waste being sent to landfill sites.
Westinghouse Corp. http://www.westinghouse-plasma.com
Plasco Energy Group http://www.plascoenergygroup.com