A Canadian company has acquired the only plasma gasification technology commercially proven to vaporize old boots, beds and baby diapers and transform the household waste into energy such as electricity.

Calgary‘‘s Alter Nrg, which started trading on the TSX Venture Exchange on April 17, 2007, has purchased Pittsburgh‘‘s Westinghouse Plasma Corporation (WPC) for US$29 million, giving the Canadian alternative energy company ownership of an environmentally responsible way to deal with municipal waste.

Plasma gasification is a process in which heat nearly as hot as the sun‘‘s surface is used to break down the molecular structure of any carbon-containing materials – such as household waste, tires and industrial sludge – and convert them into synthesis gas that can be used to generate power. Gasification occurs in an oxygen starved environment so the waste is vaporized, not incinerated or burned. WPC‘‘s plasma gasification technology has been applied commercially for more than 15 years.

Westinghouse Plasma Corporation‘‘s plasma gasification technology was recently selected by Atlanta-based Geoplasma LLC for its planned waste-to-energy facility in St. Lucie County, Florida. The development agreement for the St. Lucie facility was approved by the county in April 2007, and is expected to be operational by the second quarter of 2010 – initially converting 1,000 tonnes of garbage per day, and eventually vaporizing 3,000 tonnes of garbage per day. Upon opening, energy generated from the facility will provide enough electricity to power more than 25,000 homes. Geoplasma‘‘s Florida facility will become the world‘‘s largest waste-to-energy plasma gasification facility.

In India, SMS Infrastructures Limited has begun construction of two 68 tonne-per-day hazardous waste disposal plants utilizing the WPC technology. The plants, located in Pune and Nagpur, will each produce up to five megawatts of electricity and are expected to open in the fall of 2007.

Westinghouse Plasma Corporation‘‘s plasma gasification technology has been successfully used in two Japanese facilities since 2002, transforming municipal solid waste, scrap auto waste and sewage sludge into electricity. The India and Florida facilities are expected to open the door to other plasma gasification facilities throughout the world.

The WPC plasma gasification process was first developed for NASA in the Apollo space program to simulate space vehicle re-entry conditions of over 5,500 degrees Celsius. Today, the WPC plasma gasification process is being used by large companies such as Alcan, General Motors and Hitachi Metals. More than US$100 million has been invested in the WPC technology, making it the most versatile and efficient plasma gasification technology in the world.

Environmentally responsible

Plasma gasification is environmentally responsible because it generates non-hazardous residual byproducts, has fewer emissions and generates more energy per tonne of waste. Plasma gasification facilities also have a smaller environmental footprint than conventional waste disposal options including landfills, incineration and non-plasma gasification.

The decomposition of waste in landfills produces methane gas, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Methane is estimated to have a global warming effect 23 times greater than carbon dioxide. According to Environment Canada, emissions from Canadian landfills are equivalent to approximately 5.5 million cars on the road. Gasification, which produces carbon dioxide instead of methane, has a smaller impact on the greenhouse effect than emissions from landfills.

In March 2007, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also identified plasma gasification technology as a viable solution to convert waste to energy without emitting harmful<

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #22-2007-June 01, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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