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Natural Awakenings Seattle

High-Tech Plant Vaporizes Trash

Jan 01, 2007 05:05PM

Hotter than the surface of the sun. Operating at the speed of lightning. Plasma-arc trash incineration technology promises a sustainable answer to dwindling land and energy resources.

By 2008, Geoplasma’s pilot plant in St. Lucie County, Florida will be vaporizing 3,000 tons of county trash a day at 10,000º Fahrenheit, eventually cleaning out the entire local landfill. It’s set to generate 120 megawatts a day. One-third powers the plant, two-thirds sells back to the grid. Up to 600 tons of hardened slag produced each day will sell to road contractors. No byproduct goes unused, and toxic compounds are rendered harmless by the intense heat.

“Municipal solid waste is perhaps the largest renewable energy resource that is available to us,” says Louis Circeo, director of Georgia Tech’s plasma research division. Plus, he points out that “emissions are much lower than virtually any other process” for the amount of energy produced.

Currently two similar but smaller facilities are gasifying garbage in Japan, where emission standards are even more stringent than in the United States.

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