Plasma Waste Recycling, Inc

FAQ About Plasma Arc Gasfication Process from Plasma Waste Recycling, Inc (PWR)

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Courtesy of Plasma Waste Recycling, Inc

What is Municipal Solid Waste?

Municipal solid waste (MSW)—more commonly known as trash or garbage—consists of everyday items such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint and batteries. It does not contain industrial, hazardous, or construction waste.

Since 1980, the total annual volume of MSW generated in the U.S. has increased more than 50 percent to 245 million tons in 2005. Of this amount, around 79 million tons were recovered through recycling or composting, 33 million tons (14 percent) were combusted, and about 133 million tons (55 percent) went to landfills or otherwise disposed of.

As the graph illustrates, the amount of municipal solid waste generated per person per day has stabilized, but the total amount continues to increase.
Source: US EPA

What is Plasma?

Plasma is an ionized gas, and is typically described as the fourth state of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma). Examples of plasma are lightning, static electricity, fluorescent lights and aurora borealis. PWR’s process utilizes a high-temperature thermal plasma to create the temperatures necessary to gasify MSW.

What is Syngas?

Syngas or synthesis gas consists primarily of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. Syngas is combustible and often used as a fuel source or as an intermediate in the production of other chemicals. Syngas for use as a fuel is most often produced by gasification of coal or municipal waste.

C (feedstock) + H20 (steam, or air or oxygen) + energy → CO + H2 (endothermic)

What is Gasification?

Gasification is a thermal chemical process that maximizes the conversion of a carbonaceous material to synthesis gas (syngas) containing primarily CO and H2. The chemical reactions take place in the presence of a reforming agent (i.e. steam, air or pure oxygen) in an oxygen “starved” atmosphere, in contrast to combustion wherein the reactions take place in an oxygen rich, excess air environment. In other words, the ratio of oxygen molecules to carbon molecules ideally is stoichiometrically balanced in the gasification reactor.

What is the difference between incineration and the gasification process?

The gasification process is distinctly different from combustion (incineration) in that it uses energy from the plasma to thermally convert organic waste from a solid (or liquid) to an energy-rich gas.

Bottom and fly ash collected from combustion (incineration) has to be treated (usually through stabilization operations that increase the disposal volume) and disposed of as hazardous waste (mostly fly ash). The plasma gasification process does not produce any ash.

Is the PWR process a significant source of electricity?

The North American Electric Reliability Council was formed by Congress to monitor electrical needs in the United States. It recently reported that electric demand will increase 20% between 2006 and 2015, outstripping investment in electricity supply resulting in available resources falling below safe levels in much of the United States. The PWR process can provide the vehicle to meet these projected national demand increases with renewable green energy at an economically feasible cost without the need for additional fossil or nuclear generating capacity.

Can the PWR process convert feedstocks other than MSW?

Yes. Any feedstock can be treated, but for syngas production, carbon is required in the feedstock. Biomass, coal, auto shredder residue, petroleum refining byproducts, tires, and tar sands are just a few examples.

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