Georgia Institute of Technology
Florida county plans to vaporize landfill trash
FORT PIERCE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida county has grand plans to ditch its dump, generate electricity and help build roads — all by vaporizing garbage at temperatures hotter than the sun.
The $425 million facility expected to be built in St. Lucie County will use lightning-like plasma arcs to turn trash into gas and rock-like material. It will be the first such plant in the nation operating on such a massive scale and the largest in the world.
Supporters say the process is cleaner than traditional trash incineration, though skeptics question whether the technology can meet the lofty expectations.
The 100,000-square-foot plant, slated to be operational in two years, is expected to vaporize 3,000 tons of garbage a day. County officials estimate their entire landfill — 4.3 million tons of trash collected since 1978 — will be gone in 18 years.
No byproduct will go unused, according to Geoplasma, the Atlanta-based company building and paying for the plant.
Synthetic, combustible gas produced in the process will be used to run turbines to create about 120 megawatts of electricity that will be sold back to the grid. The facility will operate on about a third of the power it generates, free from outside electricity.
About 80,000 pounds of steam per day will be sold to a neighboring Tropicana Products Inc. facility to power the juice plant's turbines.
Sludge from the county's wastewater treatment plant will be vaporized, and a material created from melted organic matter — up to 600 tons a day — will be hardened into slag, and sold for use in road and construction projects.
"This is sustainability in its truest and finest form," said Hilburn Hillestad, president of Geoplasma, a subsidiary of Jacoby Development Inc.
For years, some waste-management facilities have been converting methane — created by rotting trash in landfills — to power. Others also burn trash to produce electricity.
But experts say population growth will limit space available for future landfills.
"We've only got the size of the planet," said Richard Tedder, program administrator for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's solid waste division. "Because of all of the pressures of development, people don't want landfills. It's going to be harder and harder to site new landfills, and it's going to be harder for existing landfills to continue to expand."
The plasma-arc gasification facility in St. Lucie County, on central Florida's Atlantic Coast, aims to solve that problem by eliminating the need for a landfill. Only two similar facilities are operating in the world — both in Japan — but are gasifying garbage on a much smaller scale.
Up to eight plasma arc-equipped cupolas will vaporize trash year-round, non-stop. Garbage will be brought in on conveyor belts and dumped into the cylindrical cupolas where it falls into a zone of heat more than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
"We didn't want to do it like everybody else," said Leo Cordeiro, the county's solid waste director. "We knew there were better ways."
No emissions are released during the closed-loop gasification, Geoplasma says. The only emissions will come from the synthetic gas-powered turbines that create electricity. Even that will be cleaner than burning coal or natural gas, experts say.
Few other toxins will be generated, if any at all, Geoplasma says.
But critics disagree.
"We've found projects similar to this being misrepresented all over the country," said Monica Wilson of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives.
Wilson said there aren't enough studies yet to prove the company's claims that emissions will likely be less than from a standard natural-gas power plant.
She also said other companies have tried to produce such results and failed. She cited two similar facilities run by different companies in Australia and Germany that closed after failing to meet emissions standards.
"I think this is the time for the residents of this county to start asking some tough questions," Wilson said.
Bruce Parker, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Solid Wastes Management Association, scoffs at the notion that plasma technology will eliminate the need for landfills.
"We do know that plasma arc is a legitimate technology, but let's see first how this thing works for St. Lucie County," Parker said. "It's too soon for people to make wild claims that we won't need landfills."
Louis Circeo, director of Georgia Tech's plasma research division, said that as energy prices soar and landfill fees increase, plasma-arc technology will become more affordable.
"Municipal solid waste is perhaps the largest renewable energy resource that is available to us," Circeo said, adding that the process "could not only solve the garbage and landfill problems in the United States and elsewhere, but it could significantly alleviate the current energy crisis."
He said that if large plasma facilities were put to use nationwide to vaporize trash, they could theoretically generate electricity equivalent to about 25 nuclear power plants.
Americans generated 236 million tons of garbage in 2003, about 4.5 pounds per person, per day, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. Roughly 130 million tons went to landfills — enough to cover a football field 703 miles high with garbage.
Circeo said criticism of the technology is based on a lack of understanding.
"We are going to put emissions out, but the emissions are much lower than virtually any other process, especially a combustion process in an incinerator," he said.
Circeo said that both plants operating in Japan, where emissions standards are more stringent than in the U.S., are producing far less pollution than regulations require.
"For the amount of energy produced, you get significantly less of certain pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter," said Rick Brandes, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency's waste minimization division.
Geoplasma expects to recoup its $425 million investment, funded by bonds, within 20 years through the sale of electricity and slag.
"That's the silver lining," said Hillestad, adding that St. Lucie County won't pay a dime. The company has assumed full responsibility for interest on the bonds.
County Commissioner Chris Craft said the plasma process "is bigger than just the disposal of waste for St. Lucie County."
"It addresses two of the world's largest problems — how to deal with solid waste and the energy needs of our communities," Craft said. "This is the end of the rainbow. It will change the world."
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A Remedy for Landfills
Sheryl S. Jackson
While landfills are the predominant form of solid-waste disposal for municipalities in the U.S., people are objecting to the establishment of new landfills in their communities.
Decreasing availability of land, worries about potential health problems and a growing concern for the environment have made the disposal of solid waste a challenge.
Until landfill alternatives are developed, a short-term approach may be found in the laboratory of Dr. Louis Circeo, director of construction research at Georgia Tech.
Circeo's research centers on the use of the plasma-arc torch, which converts gas into a plasma state similar to lightning. The torch can create temperatures up to 7,000 degrees--hot enough to melt ash, metals or any solid waste into a glassy rock-like substance, which also traps contaminants included in the original material.
"The glassy by-product takes up less volume than the original material. That means that a landfill's life can be increased by five times --- to an average 100 years --- by melting current wastes," explains Circeo. To melt the waste in a landfill, a series of boreholes, each lined with a lightweight metal, is drilled to the bottom of the dump. The torch begins at the bottom of each borehole, melting the material surrounding the hole as it is slowly pulled up to the top. Circeo points out that it is important to space the boreholes close enough to the lava created by each melting fuse to produce a solid layer.
The entire process, known as consolidation and remediation, can be repeated until the melted waste reaches the top of the landfill.
Since there is virtually no leaching of contaminants from the melted waste and the melted waste provides a solid, stable foundation, the land could be safely used for development.
And gases produced by the melting can be collected and used as fuel.
While the cost of plasma-arc technology for landfill remediation is relatively high --- $65 per ton --- Circeo points out that rising land costs and new landfill regulations will make the plasma- arc torch a more cost-effective approach. "By investing in a system that captures and refuses the gases, remediation can even pay for itself."
A by-product of the process, the glass rock, may also be sold for gravel or molded into other products, such as bricks.
Countries using the plasma torch for waste disposal include France and Japan, where incineration ash is classified as a hazardous material and the plasma-arc torch provides a cost- effective way to handle the waste. Bordeaux, France's plasma furnace claims an annual savings of $2 million for waste disposal.
Since the glass rock produced by the torch effectively traps contaminants, this process is effective for disposal of other hazardous material such as asbestos, medical waste and radioactive waste, says Circeo.
In fact, Circeo is overseeing projects that are developing plants for the disposal of these materials for the Department of Energy, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Colorado and the Defense Logistics Agency.
While Europe, Canada and Japan have been seeking ways to use plasma-arc technology for solid-waste disposal, Circeo says that the U.S. Swill be unable to wait much longer.
"It's only a matter of time until incinerator ash and other materials will be classified as hazardous, as they are in other countries," he says.
When that happens, Circeo says the plasmatorch technology will be waiting.
Sheryl S. Jackson is an Atlanta free-lance writer.
Braz. J. Phys. 34 (4b), Dec. 2004
Plasma Processing of Municipal Solid Waste
Scientific Research Department, Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico,
PO Box 192017, San Juan, PR 00919-2017
In this paper a review and assessment of the Hot Temperature Plasma Processing of Waste is presented. The environmental advantage of this method over incineration is clearly demonstrated. The present technology of Plasma Arcs and the Modern Plasma Torches Applications are also shown. An Assessment of the Heavy Duty Gasification Combined Cycle Turbines, Gasification Process, Magmavication/Vitrification process, and Environmental Engineering Protection are also described.
Imagine a process in which we convert the inorganic components of the municipal solid waste in architectural tiles and construction bricks, at the same time we convert all the organic contents of the waste into Synthesis gas, (basically a mix of H2 + CO, almost a green fuel) and in addition we generate electrical power. Furthermore, could we have a system that doesn't generate ashes, and doesn't pollute the air, the water nor the soil, as incineration does? The answer is yes. The plasma torches that operate at very high temperatures (between 5,000ºC and 100,000ºC) can process all kinds of waste: municipal solid, toxic, medical, biohazard, industrial and nuclear waste at atmospheric pressure. Effectively, the inorganic waste is vitrified in solid-like glass materials that are used to manufacture aggregates for the construction industry (Magmavication process) and the organic materials (plastics, paper, oil, bio-materials, etc.) are converted into Syngas with caloric value, fuel that is used on the Heavy-duty advanced gas turbines for the generation of electrical power (Gasification process). No ashes are produced because at more than 5,000ºC, all the organic molecules are disintegrated and only the mix of H2 + CO remains at high temperature.
2. Plasma and it's technological evolution: from discharge tubes to torches
Plasma is the ionized state of matter, it's conformed by a quasi-neutral gas composed of charged and neutral particles, which exhibit a collective behavior; plasma is the most abundant form of matter in the universe. It is formed whenever ordinary matter is heated over 5,000 ºC, which results in electrically charged gases or fluids. They are profoundly influenced by the electrical interactions of the ions and electrons by the presence of a magnetic field.
Plasma produced with DC electrical discharge has been the precursor of a modern and more efficient Plasma Torch device1. Taken an electrical discharge tube [2,3,4] -like the classical schematic shown in the Fig. 1 and raising the voltage V, while measuring the current I following through the discharge, the result is a high nonlinear Voltage-Current curve. The three major regimes of industrially important DC low-pressure electrical discharges tubes are:the Dark Discharge, the Glow Discharge and the Arc Discharge (Shown in Fig. 2).
The arc regime is comprised of three regions: the glow to arc transition, the non-thermal arcs, and the thermal arcs. When the current density is great enough to heat the cathode to incandescence, then a discontinuous glow-to-arc transition region appears in the Voltage-Current characteristic curve. This glow-to-arc transition happens for currents between1 and 10 Amperes at low pressures.
As we can see in Fig. 3, thermal arcs always are found at higher pressures and higher gas temperature than non-thermal arcs; however, non-thermal arcs may also exist at atmospheric pressure.
The total current of arcs is always more than 1 ampere and the current density ranges from several amperes per square centimeter to more than thousand amperes per square centimeter. The electron density of thermal arcs is higher than in non-thermal arcs.
In non-thermal arcs, low emission arcs usually require thermionic emission from cathodes, whereas in thermal arcs, high intensity arcs usually operate in field emissions.
Thermal arcs can be considered in thermodynamic equilibrium. Figs. 4, 5 and 6 show different types of arcs and torches: the transpiration stabilized arc, the coaxial flow stabilized arc and the axe symmetric, non-transferred, unmagnetized arc jet or plasma torch.
3. Cascade process of ionization
In a cascade process, one incident electron (e—) collides with a neutral atom to produce a second electron and an ion. There are then two electrons and one ion. After these two electrons have each collided with another neutral atom, there are produced four electrons and three ions. This process continues and, after about 20 successive sets of collisions, millions of electrons and ions will have been formed rapidly (the mean free path between collisions is very small at atmospheric pressures).
The Debye length is a measure of the width of the effective electric field of an ion and is given approximately by the next formula, in which Te is the electron temperature and ne is the number density of electrons (per mL). lD = 6.9 (Te/ne)1/2. For a plasma temperature of 8,000 ºK and ne = 1014/cm3, lD is about 0.0006 mm, which is very much smaller than the 1mm sampler orifice and so ions can pass through easily. Hot gases from the plasma impinge on the edges of the sampler orifice so that deposits build up and reduce its diameter with time. The surroundings of the sampler orifice suffer also from corrosive effects due to bombardment by hot species from the plasma flame. These problems necessitate replacement of the sampler from time to time. As the gas leaves the other side of the sampler orifice, it experiences a vacuum of about 10-5 Torr and the expanding jet of gas cools very rapidly and reaches supersonic speeds.
4. Modern high power plasma torches
Westinghouse in his Plasma Center2 , has produced modern High Power Plasma Torches [4,5]. The author visited that facility, inspected one torch, and noticed the excellent performance. There are several manufacturers of plasma torches (a list of them is available on the web). However, to the author knowledge, only Westinghouse manufactures torches of high power even in the order of 10 MW (Fig. 8). Models similar to this torch are commercially available even in the range of 75 KW to 10,000 kW of power. A thermal efficiency of 90% is easily possible; the efficiency represents the percentage of arc power that exits the torch and enters the process. However, the operational characteristics of each torch depend of the gas composition. The most common gases used in plasma torches are Argon, and Helium. The quality of the plasma produced depends on the plasma density and the plasma temperature; at atmospheric pressure plasma torches may produce a density of 1014 cm-3. As more power is given to the torch, there is better quality of plasma. Due to the broad range of plasma temperatures and densities, plasmas have several applications in research, technology and in the industry.
5. Plasma magmavication or vitrification process
Plasma torches provide efficient means for melting solids or waste materials into magma or a lava form, after a short time of interaction of the plasma (T > 5000ºC) with the solids. In a longer cooling time, the resulting mass forms a chemically and physically durable igneous rock. Depending upon the original mineralogy and rate of cooling, the final product consists of either amorphous glassy material resembling volcanic obsidian or a crystalline igneous rock similar to granite or basalt. Several applications have been done in the construction industry (Circeo [6,7,8] et al., 2000 at Georgia Tech). The Georgia Tech group found a formula for the amount of vitrified mass produced, as a function of the plasma torches energies. The mass produced obeys the relation: M (kg) = 0.35 P (kW-hr), where M is the vitrified mass-produced in Kg, and P is the electrical energy consumed in the process. One application is for remediation of radioactive waste, where highly radioactive liquid and sludge are mixed with glass particles and heated to very high temperatures to produce a molten glass. This molten glass is then poured into stainless steel canisters. When the mixture cools, it hardens into a stable glass that traps the radioactive elements and prevents them from moving through the air or water into the environment. DOE is currently operating vitrification plants at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina and the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York. In Japan, Kobe [9,13,14] Steel LTD and The Kansai Electric Power Company developed a Plasma vitrification system.
6. High temperature plasma processing of waste
Solid waste from municipalities can be processed using high-energy plasma torches. Plasma can process any kind of waste. The chemical properties and the contents of the average municipal waste are shown in Table 1.
Westinghouse  has conducted many successful experiments, designs and developments involving the gasification and/or Vitrification of simulated MSW (municipal solid waste), ASR (auto shredder residue), fossil fuels, and industrial liquid and solid wastes in a plasma reactor.
The gasification test material feed ranged from low Btu MSW (1600 kcal/kg) to medium Btu simulated auto shredder residue (4500 kcal/kg) and to high Btu coal (8,000 kcal/kg).
Experiments were conducted where fuels were gasified to produce primarily carbon monoxide, CO and hydrogen, H2. The inorganic components of the feed were converted to molten slag that was removed as vitrified by product. The slag passed the EPA-mandated Toxicity Characteristic Leachate Procedure (TCLP) requirements. Emissions are very much reduced and the slag is a glassy product with value as a construction material base. Dioxins were measured at levels approximately 100 times lower than from an incineration plant (e.g., < 0.01 ng/nm3 measured in stack gas), and predicted fuel gas production is observed. For organic waste, the production of power via a combustion/turbine combined cycle at much higher efficiencies (approximately 40% thermal efficiency versus approximately 20% for an incineration steam boiler plant) is an added benefit which makes the project cost attractive compared to incinerator/steam boiler MSW plants. Additionally, the high quality glassy material produced can be sold as a roadbed or construction material and the need and expense to dispose of ash is eliminated.
7. Metal-electrode-plasma furnace applications
The plasma energy corporation has investigated the use of this plasma technology for treatment of municipal waste, used tires, polychlorobenzyl (PCB), oils and medical wastes (Pocklington and Corox , 1992; Camacho , 1990) since plasma can provide thermal decomposition of some toxic molecules into simple benign one's. A 300-kW level power operation has been used in a range of experiments. Hydrocarbon waste is fed into the furnace through a double door air lock system. A molten pool was formed in the earth. In some experiments, steam was injected to generate hydrogen-rich gas that could be used in future applications for energy production. The gases produced by the furnace were scrubbed to control chlorine and sulfur emissions. The inorganic and metals in the molten pool of the furnace were tapped, and vitrified (glass-like) slag and metal product was obtained. The electrical power requirement for conversion of one ton of municipal solid waste into the final products of vitrified solids and metals, hydrogen and carbon monoxide gas was 550-790 kW h. Typically 20% of the initial waste is converted into solid products. The remainder is converted into gas. Combustion of the hydrogen and carbon monoxide in the gas could be used to offset the electrical power requirement.
8. Plasma gasification processes of waste
Gasification [9,11,13] is a simple and commercially well-proven technology. It involves the conversion of various feedstocks to clean syngas, through a reaction with oxygen and steam; this reaction is spontaneous at high temperature and pressure under reduction conditions, and consumes half of the oxygen required for total combustion. The raw syngas product is cooled and purified, it is then used in one or a combination of many product applications: syngas for chemicals, gaseous fuels, for liquid fuels burned in commercial boilers to produce steam or in heat transfer process and in internal combustion engines to produce electrical energy. Combined cycles are also possible leading to co-generation of electrical energy. The energy efficiency of biomass gasification varies from 75 to 80%, this depends of the composition and heat capacity of the raw material; Humidity and the inorganic inert matter content reduce the efficiency. The traditional market for syngas is focused in gas production as an intermediate step during the production of important chemicals, such as ammonia for fertilizer. However, application of gasification in other processes is increasing due to market changes associated with improved gas turbines, deregulation of electrical power generation, and stringent environmental mandates. Gasification plant capacity is reported in units of volumetric output of syngas (i.e., normal cubic meters per day). However, the Department of Energy (DOE) converted all the gasification input and output capacities to MWth. (1MWth = 3,413,000Btu/hr). Gasification is an alternative to combustion, and has an energy efficiency of 50%. The advantage consists on reducing both the atmospheric emissions and the volume of solid residues to be land filled. Since the solid residues come from a high temperature at normal conditions, they're inert materials that can be used as part of the bulk material in concrete production.
9. Synthesis gas cleaning island
The purpose of this system is to remove pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter, hydrochloric acid (HCl) and Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) vapors from the synthesis gas. The primary design requirements are environmental protection and safe operation of the gas turbine. The basic unit operations are those of gas cooling, particulate removal, and acid gas neutralization. First, the syngas is sufficiently cooled prior to gas cleanup it is passed through a partial quench. The gas leaves the chamber at 350 ºC. The goal is to lower the gas temperature sufficiently so as not to damage the downstream equipment while maintaining the gas above saturation temperature. The gas then passes through a fabric filter bag-house to remove particulates. The blowers are each sized at 100% to provide full redundancy. The gas is then in a saturation tank, which lowers the gas temperature to 50 ºC, then it passes through a packed bed aqueous scrubber for acid remove. Sodium hydroxide solution is used to neutralize the acid. The gas, still ''sour'' at this point, then undergoes first stage compression for use in the gas turbine. It then enters the lower section of the H2S Absorber Vessel and flows countercurrent to a regenerated solution of chelated iron oxide (FeO2) fluid for removal of any H2S. The H2S absorbed by the solution is removed from the bottom of the H2S Absorber Vessel and circulated by the Rich Solution Pump, through a Solution Cooler, and into the Solution Oxidizer Tank, where Air Blower introduces air. The air blower agitation causes the elemental sulfur to precipitate, forming slurry at the bottom of the Solution Oxidizer Tank. The slurry is removed from Solution Oxidizer Tank by a Sulfur Slurry Pump Tag and sent to a conveyor Sulfur Filter. The filtrate solution drains off and is returned to the Solution Oxidizer Tank, while the wet inert sulfur cake is collected for disposal to a non-hazardous landfill. At this point, the gas exiting the H2S Absorber Vessel is considered 'clean' for use as a fuel gas. Specific Heat Capacity of Syngas = 1.488 kJ/kg. K
10. Gas turbine excess of energy and green energy
The Lower Heating Value (LHV) of the natural gas supply is assumed to be 11,900kcal/kg. The minimum LHV acceptable to the CTG is assumed to be 3,600kcal.kg. The ability of the Integrated Plasma Gasification Combined Cycle System (IPGCC) to use low calorific value (LCV) feedstock, and produce high value co-products, along with energy, enhance the economic viability of new projects. The ability to successfully burn LCV fuels like the case of municipal solid waste required that GE modified the can-annular combustion systems since 1990. GE concluded that a Syngas fueled combined cycle plant can have the same Reliability-Availability-Maintenance (RAM) performance as a natural gas-fueled combined cycle plant. IPGCC shows superior environmental performance and viability, also the power plant emissions are far below any other coal technology, for all the major pollutant categories (NOx, SOx, metals, mercury, CO2, sludge, water).
11. IPGCC environmental performance
IPGCC is inherently "greener" than any other coal technology. In the process, harmful pollutants can be removed from the syngas before they reach the gas turbine; thus, back-end exhaust gas clean up is not necessary. The SOx, NOx, mercury, metals, and particle emissions from the plant are fractions of those of a conventional pulverized coal boiler power plant. Consequently, IPGCC plants require significantly less effort and time to meet air emissions regulations and to obtain local and state governmental environmental permits. The process is approximately 5% more efficient than other coal power technologies; thus, CO2 emissions per kW are also 5% lower. Additionally, in the process, carbon can be removed from the syngas to create a high hydrogen fuel that effectively eliminates CO2 emissions. The advantage of IPGCC over conventional boiler plants for CO2 reduction is that the carbon can be removed from the fuel gas (pre-combustion) instead of having to remove it from the exhaust (flue) gas (post-combustion), which is far more costly because of the larger SCR volume required (about 10:1).
12. Conclusion and general assessment
The Plasma Torches technology is mature, reliable and a well-known method of producing plasma at atmospheric pressure and temperatures larger than 5,000 ºC; this may disintegrate all mater, in particular solid waste, creating gasification because the organic materials are converted in syngas, which is cleaned before being used in the Turbine. Magmavication or Vitrification is the result of the interaction between plasma and inorganic materials, in presence of a coke bed in the cupola or reactor, a vitrified material is produced and products are used in the manufacture of architectural tiles and construction materials.
Integrated Plasma Gasification Combined Cycle System (IPGCC) generates green electrical power using heavy duty Turbines; the heat from the non-transferred electric plasma torch is used to gasify the waste, producing a synthetic fuel gas that is then cleaned. The cleaned syngas will then be combusted in two simple cycle combustion turbines to produce electricity for internal consumption, as well as for export to the electric grid. The reactor will be designed to handle some liquid waste mixed with the solids. The plant is designed for continuous operation, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and about 330 days per year. Although at first look the IPGCC process appears new, it is in fact a repackaging of existing, proven technologies.
To the author's knowledge, the IPGCC plasma process MSW is the only environmentally ideal technology that we have today to process waste.
 E. Leal-Quirós, Advanced Analyzers and Probes for Fusion-Plasma Diagnostics, Current Trends in International Fusion Research. Second Symposium Edit by E. Panarella (NRC Research Press, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, ONK1A 0R6) 1999.
 D. R. Cohn, Plasma Science and the Environment. Chap 9, Manheimer W., Sugiyama L. E., Stix T. H., (editors) (AIP Press-American Institute of Physics, Woodbury, New York) 1996.
 J. R. Roth, Industrial Plasma Engineering, Volume 2. Applications to Non-thermal Plasma Processing, (IOP Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol) 2001.
 S. L. Camacho, Plasma Pyrolysis of Medical Waste in Proceedings of the First International EPRI Plasma Symposium, EPRI Center for Materials Production, Report No. CM90-9, May (1990).
 S. L. Camacho, ''The plasma arc torch: its electrical and thermal characteristics'' Proc. Int. Symp. On Envir. Technol. by Plasma system & Applications, Vol. I, Georgia Tech Research Corporation, Atlanta. P 45-66 (1995).
 B. P. Spalding, and G. K. Jacobs, Evaluation of an In-situ vitrification Field demostration of a simulated radioactive liquid waste disposal trench, Pub. No. 3332, ORNL/TM-10992, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tenn. (1989).
 J. Louis Circeo, Private communication.
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 R. T. Do and G. Letherman, 2001, Renewable Energy Market: Waste to Energy utilizing Plasma Technology, (Global Plasma Systems Corporation), Solena Presentation to the annual meeting of the Society of Women Engineers at PUPR, Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, Hato Rey, P. R., April 23, 2001.
 www.westinghouse-plasma.com, www.sfapacific.com, www.fe.doe.gov, www.gasification.org, www.netl.doe.gov
 A. D. Foster, H. E. von Doering, and M. B. Hilt, ''Fuels Flexibility in Heavy-Duty Gas Turbines,'' GE Company, Schenectady, New York, 1983.
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 Mitsubishi heavy industries, LTD.5-l, Marunouchi 2-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 TEL03-3212-3111, FAX03-3212-984.
Received on 03 February, 2004; revised version received on 04 June, 2004
1 Reed J. Roth  gives a comprehensive review of the evolution of the plasma technology to the modern Transferred and Non-Transferred Plasma torch and it is used for this review.
2 Waltz Mill Site, Madison Pennsylvania Plant.
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Watercolor Holdings, Inc. f/k/a United Specialties, Inc. Announces New Agreements
NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- December 19, 2006 -- Watercolor Holdings, Inc., a publicly held Colorado corporation f/k/a United Specialties, Inc. (PINKSHEETS: WCHG), announced today that it has entered into two agreements to aid in its development of operating businesses at multiple locations for renewable energy sources.
Watercolor has entered into an Agreement with Plasma Arc Consultants, Inc., led by Dr. Louis Circeo, to help in its plasma gasification project. Plasma systems and its off gases are utilized in the production of BioFuels. Dr. Circeo is the Principal Research Scientist in Safety, Health and Environmental Technology Division at the Georgia Tech Research Institute and he established the Plasma Application Research Facility at Georgia Tech in 1990.
Watercolor has also entered into an Agreement with Aristos Partners, LLC for the preparation of a business plan and financial projections (Pro forma) for the project development and construction of plants for the conversion of waste materials into energy products for the commercial market. It is expected that Aristos will complete their work in the next sixty (60) days.
Watercolor expects to be making future announcements about additional alliances along with corporate and management structure.
The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a safe harbor for forward-looking statements made on behalf of Watercolor. All such forward-looking statements are, by necessity, only estimates of future results and actual results achieved by Watercolor may differ materially from these statements due to a number of factors. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. Statements made in this document are not purely historical are forward-looking statements, including any statements as to beliefs, plans, expectations, or intentions regarding the future. Risk factors that may cause results to differ from projections include without limitation, loss of suppliers, loss of customers, inadequate capital, competition, loss of key executives, declining prices and other economic actors. Watercolor assumes no obligations to update these forward-looking statements to reflect actual results, changes in assumptions or changes in other factors affecting such statements. You should independently investigate and fully understand all risks before making investment decisions.
University of Florida TREEO Center --- Enviro-Net
Turning Up The Heat On Buried Wastes: Plasma Torch Able To Reduce Landfill, Hazwaste Volume
A new technique for reducing volume in landfills and at highly toxic remediation projects is gaining interest from the county level to the Pentagon. Referred to as the plasma remediation of in situ materials, the process uses heat from a torch that creates a form of artificial lightning.
Temperatures in the torch reach more than 7,000 degrees Celsius, hotter than the surface of the sun, said Dr. Louis Circeo, principal research scientist in the Construction Research Center at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
The "torch" is basically a 6-foot stainless steel tube with two electrodes at one end. Electrical power is applied to the torch to produce a flame. The plasma torch program started at Georgia Tech in 1990. The plasma torch idea was conceived in 1992.
In landfills, this technology has the capability of reducing the volume of waste by up to 90%. This is achieved by boring a hole in the ground and inserting the torch. Depending on how many torches are used and how long they are left in the ground, a molten pool of a certain diameter is made. As the torch is slowly raised, what is left is a rocklike column of molten material that is harder than concrete. Because there is no air, the material consolidates, giving off gases from the heat. Typically, a 10-foot column of waste could be reduced to one foot in volume, he explained.
The technology can also be used to remediate contaminated soils. In those cases, a 30-40% reduction can be achieved, he said.
By the proper placement of the holes, the columns can be coalesced. All the heavy metals are contained in the pool of molten material and any hazardous materials are broken down by the heat of the torch to their basic elements.
"The high heat essentially destroys all the hazardous materials. This hard rock is virtually unleachable," Circeo pointed out.
In general, it takes about one megawatt hour of torch power, or one torch burning for one hour to melt one ton of soil. To melt more soil at one time, you increase the number of torches being used, he explained.
A little more than a year ago, Circeo conducted a research project for the state of Georgia using this technology, which worked very well in the laboratory. He is now attempting to receive a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to put his torch to work at a landfill in Lumpkin County, GA. The grant would be used to determine the actual feasibility of adapting this technology to the landfill, Circeo said.
Currently, Circeo has three programs using the plasma torch. One is with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Savannah River Site, where officials are looking at remediating contaminated soils and radioactive and hazardous waste. Another is a laboratory study with the Department of Defense, which is interested in the technology's application to buried chemical and biological waste materials.
A third project is looking at the stabilization of very weak foundation materials for building. It is believed that the plasma torch could stop slopes and mud from sliding because it would turn subterranean soil into a rock that is harder than cement, he said.
Another benefit Circeo sees from this technology is the possibility that useful gases can be extracted from the landfills and sold as fuel. "In the laboratory it shows that we get as much energy out of the landfill as goes into the plasma torch to melt the material in the first place," he added.
Circeo also has the attention of actor Dennis Weaver, who today is involved in environmental matters. Weaver and his Institute of Ecolonomics in Colorado were invited to view the laboratory study. He was so impressed by the demonstration he has rallied behind the effort for funds to conduct a trial and is sending a letter to the EPA under his institute's name. Circeo is trying to obtain funding from the EPA and the military to conduct field studies.
September 10th, 2006
Money for Nothing and Just a Few Toxins
Marvin with Acme Disintegrator -- “County officials looked forward to vaporizing their entire landfill — 4.3 million tons of trash collected since 1978. They estimated that it all will be gone in 18 years.”
Wired News1 carried an excellent Associated Press article (Sep, 09, 2006) that a Florida county waste treatment facility expects to vaporize 3,000 tons of garbage a day using lightning-like plasma arcs to turn trash into gas and rock-like material. According to Geoplasma, the Atlanta-based company building and paying for the $425 million facility in St. Lucie County, no byproduct will go unused. “Supporters say the process is cleaner than traditional trash incineration.”
Synthetic, combustible gas produced in the process will be used to run turbines to create electricity — about 120 megawatts a day — that will be sold back to the grid. The facility will operate on about a third of the power it generates, free from outside electricity. About 80,000 pounds of steam per day will be sold to a neighboring Tropicana Products facility to power the juice plant’s turbines.
Sludge from the county’s waste water treatment plant will be vaporized, and a material created from melted organic matter — up to 600 tons a day — will be hardened into slag, and sold for use in road and construction projects.
“This is sustainability in its truest and finest form,” said Hilburn Hillestad, president of Geoplasma, a subsidiary of Jacoby Development.
Such diversified efficiency, i.e., investing in energy from waste, certainly seems a more sustainable strategy than continued dependence upon oil or natural gas fired generation for peak load management. But, will it be safe?
It would appear from the Wired News article that the plasma-arc gasification facility in St. Lucie County uses a one-step high-temperature path. This is similar in approach to coal-based gasification systems used by Shell, Uhde, Future Energy, Chemrec and others; gasification pushes the feedstock straight up to 1,300ºC.
No emissions are released during the closed-loop gasification, Geoplasma says. The only emissions will come from the synthetic gas-powered turbines that create electricity. Even that will be cleaner than burning coal or natural gas. “Few other toxins will be generated, if any at all,” Geoplasma says.
Critics disagree with Geoplasma’s claim that “emissions will likely be less than from a standard natural-gas power plant.” In regard to the St. Lucie County facility, Monica Wilson of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives said what this blog previously had noted, there unfortunately is little yet published about dealing with sewage sludge as a feedstock.
One of the challenges is to scrub pollutants from the “syngas” before burning it in a gas turbine. (Exhaust heat from the gas turbine makes steam to drive another turbine.) Such processing is expensive to install, operate correctly, and maintain within specifications. Still, if such efforts are successful, then gasification of municipal solid waste promises near-zero-emissions and extraordinarily high levels of efficiency.
Wilson stated her conviction that county residents need to start asking the tough questions. Monitoring is critical because of the variability of NOx emissions. Not only must gas scrubbing remove 96% to 99% of all particulate matter and tar aerosols, but the entire process also must ensure:
1. Destruction of all pathogens, viruses, and organochlorinated compounds.
2. Immobilization of heavy metals in waste water residuals.
3. Significant reduction in odor problems.
4. No threat of groundwater contamination.
Wilson is worried because other companies have tried and failed. She cited two similar facilities run by different companies in Australia and Germany that closed after failing to meet emissions standards. Furthermore, “we’ve found projects similar to this being misrepresented all over the country.”
Jefferson County Landfill
Americans generated 236 million tons of garbage in 2003, about 4.5 pounds per person, per day, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. Roughly 130 million tons went to landfills — enough to cover a football field 703 miles high with garbage.
Wilson has a tough fight because of the economics involved. St. Lucie County won’t pay a dime. Geoplasma expects to recoup its $425 million investment, funded by bonds, within 20 years through the sale of electricity and slag. The company even has assumed full responsibility for interest on the bonds.
County Commissioner Chris Craft said the plasma process “is bigger than just the disposal of waste for St. Lucie County. “It addresses two of the world’s largest problems — how to deal with solid waste and the energy needs of our communities,” Craft said. “This is the end of the rainbow. It will change the world.”
Economies of scale are important when one considers how to make a difference with renewable energy sources. Some waste-management facilities have burned trash to produce electricity for quite some time. Other have begun converting methane — created by rotting trash in landfills — to power. This blog previously relayed an observation by Jamais Cascio: Imagine if every municipal waste treatment plant could produce power.
“Municipal solid waste is perhaps the largest renewable energy resource that is available to us,” said Louis Circeo, director of Georgia Tech’s plasma research division, adding that the process “could not only solve the garbage and landfill problems in the United States and elsewhere, but it could significantly alleviate the current energy crisis.” He said that if large plasma facilities were put to use nationwide to vaporize trash, they could theoretically generate electricity equivalent to about 25 nuclear power plants. In addition, as landfill fees increase, landfill diversion becomes more economical. Biomass conversion technologies have the potential to return a significant portion of this post-recycled fraction of the waste stream to an economic stream in the form of biofuel, electric power, heat and / or cooling plus new bioproducts.
Plants operating in Japan, where emissions standards are more stringent than in the U.S., are producing far less pollution than regulations require. “For the amount of energy produced, you get significantly less of certain pollutants like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter,” said Rick Brandes, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s waste minimization division.
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR INTEGRATED PLASMA PROCESSING OF WASTE
CIRCEO LOUIS JOSEPH JR (US); MARTIN ROBERT C JR
EC: IPC: F02C6/00; F02C3/28; F23G5/00 (+3)
Applicant: GEORGIA TECH RES INST (US); CIRCEO LOUIS JOSEPH JR (US); MARTIN ROBERT C JR (US); SMITH MICHAEL S (US); CARAVATI KEVIN C (US)
Classification: - international: F02C6/00; F02C3/28; F23G5/00; F02C6/00; F02C3/26; F23G5/00;
Application number: WO2006US24510 20060623
Priority number(s): US20050693400P 20050623
Abstract -- Systems and methods of integrating plasma waste processing are described. An integrated energy generation system provided with a fossil fuel power plant system having a combustion chamber and a plasma waste processing system having an output. The integrated energy generation system also including an integrator for combining the output of thermal energy from the plasma waste processing system with the combustion chamber of the fossil fuel power plant.
USP # 5,827,012 [ PDF ]
Thermal Plasma Conversion of Local Soils into Construction Materials
CIRCEO JR LOUIS J
EC: E01C21/02 IPC: E01C21/02; E01C21/00; (IPC1-7): E02D19/14 (+1)
Application number: US19970778603 19970106
Priority number(s): US19970778603 19970106
Abstract -- A plasma arc torch heat based apparatus and method converts a quantity of particulate soil having a first set of engineering properties into a selected number of smaller quantities each having improved engineering properties differing from the first set of engineering properties and makes practical utilization of the smaller quantities for applications in which the first set of engineering properties were not suited. The apparatus includes a rotatable kiln which is positionable at an angle to horizontal such that soil is received in an upper end and discharged at a lower end thereof. The kiln is heated to a controlled temperature based on the properties of the soil before treatment and the desired improved properties after treatment to meet application requirements.
USP # 5,276,253 [ PDF ]
In-Situ Remediation and Vitrification of Contaminated Soils, Deposits and Buried Materials
CIRCEO JR LOUIS J (US); CAMACHO SALVADOR
EC: B09B1/00; B09C1/06V; (+3) IPC: B09B1/00; B09C1/06; C03B5/00 (+8)
Classification: - international: B09B1/00; B09C1/06; C03B5/00; C03B5/02; E02D31/00; B09B1/00; B09C1/00; C03B5/00; E02D31/00; (IPC1-7): E02D19/14; B09B1/00
- European: B09B1/00; B09C1/06V; C03B5/00B; C03B5/02D; E02D31/00
Application number: US19920944890 19920909
Priority number(s): US19920944890 19920909
Abstract -- A method is disclosed in which a plasma arc torch is used to vitrify and remediate a site containing contaminated soils, resulting from a hazardous material deposit or spill, or contaminated buried objects. The contaminated earthen material or subterranean deposit is pyrolyzed, melted or solidified by the plasma torch which is energized at the bottom of a cased, vertical borehole, and then gradually raised to the surface. An array of boreholes, appropriately spaced, will remediate an entire mass of contaminated material. Similarly, buried objects such as metal drums containing contaminants and underground storage tanks may be selectively remediated at their specific buried depth. Similar use is made of the plasma torch in a second embodiment with the additional step of processing at selected underground locations in the borehole array to create a sealed horizontal layer, vertical cutoff walls or a sealed basin as a barrier against further leaching of contaminants into surrounding soil and groundwater. Gaseous by-products of the pyrolysis process are collected, treated and processed, as appropriate.
USP # 5,181,795 [ PDF ]
In-situ Landfill Pyrolysis, Remediation and Vitrification
CIRCEO JR LOUIS J (US); CAMACHO SALVADOR L
EC: B09B1/00; B09C1/06V; (+4) IPC: B09B1/00; B09C1/06; C03B5/00 (+10)
Inventor: CIRCEO JR LOUIS J (US); CAMACHO SALVADOR L (US)
Applicant: CIRCEO JR LOUIS J (US); CAMACHO SALVADOR L (US)
Classification: - international: B09B1/00; B09C1/06; C03B5/00; C03B5/02; C10B53/00; E21B43/295; B09B1/00; B09C1/00; C03B5/00; C10B53/00; E21B43/00; (IPC1-7): E02D3/00; E02D3/11; - European: B09B1/00; B09C1/06V; C03B5/00B; C03B5/02D; C10B53/00; E21B43/295
Application number: US19920931962 19920819
Priority number(s): US19920931962 19920819
Abstract -- The process of the present invention serves to remediate and reduce the volume of waste materials in a landfill site and increases the useful life of the treated landfill. The process steps involve drilling a series of holes into the waste material mass at proper spacing, inserting and operating a plasma arc torch in each drilled hole to pyrolize, remediate and vitrify the waste materials and allowing the melted materials to cool and harden. During the process, a gaseous by-product is produced and collected in a hood which is attached to scrubbing and chemical cleaning apparatus. The resultant gases are commercially useful as fuel gas and the vitrified residue is significantly smaller in volume than the original waste material volume, thus substantially extending the useful life of the landfill site and ultimately providing a firm foundation for construction.
USP # 4,067,390 [ PDF ]
Apparatus and Method for the Recovery of Fuel Products from Subterranean Deposits of Carbonaceous Matter Using a Plasma Arc
CAMACHO SALVADOR LUJAN; CIRCEO JR LOUIS JOSEPH
EC: E21B36/02; E21B43/24; (+1) IPC: E21B36/02; E21B43/24; E21B43/247 (+3)
Applicant: TECHNOLOGY APPLIC SERVICES COR
Classification: - international: E21B36/02; E21B43/24; E21B43/247; E21B36/00; E21B43/16; (IPC1-7): E21B43/24;- European: E21B36/02; E21B43/24; E21B43/247
Application number: US19760702964 19760706
Priority number(s): US19760702964 19760706
Abstract -- An apparatus and method utilizes a plasma arc torch as a heat source for recovering useful fuel products from in situ deposits of coal, tar sands, oil shale, and the like. When applied to a coal deposit, the plasma torch is lowered in a shaft into the deposit and serves as a means for supplying heat to the coal and thereby stripping off the volatiles. The fixed carbon is gasified by reaction with steam that is sprayed into the devolatilized area and product gases are recovered through the shaft.
USRE35715E [ PDF ]
In-Situ Remediation and Vitrification of Contaminated Soils, Deposits and Buried Materials
CIRCEO JR LOUIS J (US); CAMACHO SALVADOR L
EC: B09B1/00; B09C1/06V; (+3) IPC: B09B1/00; B09C1/06; C03B5/00 (+9)
Classification: - international: B09B1/00; B09C1/06; C03B5/00; C03B5/02; E02D31/00; B09B1/00; B09C1/00; C03B5/00; E02D31/00; (IPC1-7): A62D3/00; B09B1/00; E02D19/14
- European: B09B1/00; B09C1/06V; C03B5/00B; C03B5/02D; E02D31/00
Application number: US19940359039 19941219
Priority number(s): US19940359039 19941219; US19920944890 19920909
Abstract -- A method is disclosed in which a plasma arc torch is used to vitrify and remediate a site containing contaminated soils, resulting from a hazardous material deposit or spill, or contaminated buried objects. The contaminated earthen material or subterranean deposit is pyrolyzed, melted or solidified by the plasma torch which is energized at the bottom of a cased, vertical borehole, and then gradually raised to the surface. An array of boreholes, appropriately spaced, will remediate an entire mass of contaminated material. Similarly, burled objects such as metal drums containing contaminants and underground storage tanks may be selectively remediated at their specific buried depth. Similar use is made of the plasma torch in a second embodiment with the additional step of processing at selected underground locations in the borehole array to create a sealed horizontal layer, vertical cutoff walls or a sealed basin as a barrier against further leaching of contaminants into surrounding soil and groundwater. Gaseous by-products of the pyrolysis process are collected, treated and processed, as appropriate.