Plasma gasification and vitrification of ash – conversion of ash into glass-like products and syngas

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The Plasma Gasification and Vitrification of Ash (PGVA) system is a patented process that uses energy generated by plasma arcs along with the controlled addition of small amounts of air and steam to convert the organic portion of ash into a synthesis gas (gasification) and the inorganic portion into a glassy rock (vitrification).

The vitrification of the ash’s inorganic portion significantly reduces its volume (five to ten times), prevents heavy metals from leaching out (TCLP results are typically several orders of magnitude below regulatory levels), and allows the ash to be used as construction material (e.g. aggregate).

In addition to vitrifying the ash, the PGVA process recovers the energy present in the ash by gasifying the organics into a synthesis gas (syngas). The energy released by the gasification of the organics provides some of the energy required for vitrification and, more importantly, the resulting syngas (mainly carbon monoxide and hydrogen) can be fed back to the main combustion unit for use as a fuel. In addition, since the PGVA system only requires a simple and compact gas cleaning system, capital investments are greatly reduced compared to stand alone ash vitrification systems.

Pilot plant results for the treatment of pulp and paper boiler ash as well as MSW combustor ash, at feed rates between 50 and 100 kg/h, are presented, including experimental results for TCLP, and syngas composition. Case studies, including material and energy balances, are given for various types of ash, including ash from coal.

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