Plasma Gasification Turns Garbage Into Energy

Plasma gasification offers environmentally friendly way to dispose of waste and generate power.

by / April 30, 2008

Plasma gasification converts carbon-containing materials - such as coal, petroleum coke and municipal solid waste or biomass - into a synthesis gas (syngas) composed primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Plasma gasification is emerging as an environmentally friendly way to dispose of garbage.

Syngas generated by the process can fuel to generate electricity or steam. It also can be used to fuel modified diesel or natural-gas engines.

Municipal waste materials are fed through the waste inlet into a steel reactor vessel called a gasifier, which contains a controlled amount of oxygen or other process gas, such as nitrogen or argon. The plasma gasifier is about 40 feet tall.

Plasma torches use electricity and oxygen to create an electric arc. The resultant gas, which is as hot as 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, is called plasma.

High-pressure gases exit the gasifier through the syngas outlet and power a turbine, which generates electricity to run the gasifier and sell to energy suppliers.

Molten waste is disposed of via the metal and slag output. This matter is cooled and can be used for roadbed materials or construction.

Syngas, short for synthesis gas, is a by-product of the gasification of process. The syngas created by plasma gasification consists primarily of hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which can be processed into clean-burning fuels.

Source: Westinghouse Plasma Corp.


For an illustration of the plasma gasifier, click here.



Jessica Jones Associate Editor