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Plasma Arc Waste Disposal Answered

I was watching the local news earlier... and they started talking about a new waste plant being built in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

Basically, they vaporize the trash and sewage sludge under a vacuum, and use the by product gases as fuel for the plant and power turbines. Steam is going to power a local juice plant. Solid by product (rocks and such) can be used for construction etc.

On top of that, the by product gas - when burned - is cleaner than burning natural gas or garbage. Even if you think climate change is a myth, I think you can appreciate cleaner air to breath :P This plant is going to eat up the local landfills too :)

I just thought it was pretty cool. This is the first plant in the United States and the third in the world (other two are in Japan and are much smaller).



Agree with all of trebuchet03's comments. I'd like to add that while this appears to be a good way to handle trash, it's in no way a free energy source. It takes far more power to vaporize the trash that you derive from the resulting product gases and such. I'll call it nifty, but it's only an answer to the trash problems, not much of a conservation thing.

t takes far more power to vaporize the trash that you derive from the resulting product gases and such.

The mfr is claiming that it will make enough energy to power itself and then put 120Megawatts back into the grid. It's not free energy as the major energy input is trash - and we have a lot of it. I do find it funny that trash is considered a renewable resource o.0 Can a renewable resource be derived from non-renewable components?

But I agree with you sam -- reusing, recycling etc. etc. is always preferable - just not viable at all times.

The mfr is claiming that it will make enough energy to power itself and then put 120Megawatts back into the grid.

Found an article explaining the plant:

I call shenanigans. At least I really want to. I get the feeling that there are problems with the laws of energy conservation here, but I don't have time to discuss it at length. I'm at work, after all. They talk a good game, but time will tell.

Yep -- saw that article.... That being said -- the plants in Japan are producing surplus energy (The plant in Utashinai makes about 8MW of power).... Energy conservation does work here as the energy output is going to power the process itself -- not into making the fuel (trash). Of course -- we'll see how its handled shortly. The mfr has put their necks out on this one financially... So if they do make fraudulent claims post contstruction, the municipal governments won't be paying for it.

slaps hand on forehead.... that's wrong....

For some reason, I've been thinking the process was being done with the waste and not on the waste. So yes, I agree with you photozz. Makes me more curious of how this actually works because it's likely that we're missing something :P I'm really curious now -- so I'm gonna search through some journals :)


11 years ago

That sounds too good to be true.. It sounds exciting, but what are the downsides?

Very good question.... did some reading...

Looks like two plants were shut down because they could not meet emissions standards -- they were in Australia and Germany.

I can't seem to find when they closed down (just a bunch of people citing the same source that they did shut down) -- but I did find some press releases about the Australia site dated 1998.

All that said -- Japan's plants have met Japan's much more stringent emissions standards...

Here's an article clearly against it:

What's interesting is that it mentions the emissions to be exactly what is claimed to be removed. So I'll guess we'll see what happens. It also suggestions a non-viable solution to the trash problem - don't use anything (it's a great dream, but not realistic) :P They even suggest going back in medical progress. While less consumption is great, the health quality risks are higher in my opinion :P

On the note of potential toxins..... As said, we can't create or destroy matter -- but it is possible to change it. So I guess if handled improperly (not enough energy put into it) you will end up with toxic by products. It's up to the manufacturer to handle that -- AND they have taken the full bill. Florida isn't paying for the system - so if it can't meet promises, it didn't come out of tax payer dollars.

It looks as though reusing, recycling and solar panels are still be the way to go... But we'll soon see. When should it be built by?