Plasma Gasification-Municipal Waste as a Power Source

Emerson’s Alan Novak, leader of the alternative energy and power industry team describes the plasma gasification technology in waste to energy conversion.

Emerson's Alan NovakA recent Waste to Energy Industry article, Control System for Troubled 12 MW Plasma Gasification Plant in France, highlighted the fact that a municipal waste fed plasma gasification power plant had recently upgraded its control system in an effort to improve availability.

What is plasma gasification and why is it of interest?

Plasma gasification is a technique for producing syngas (CO and H2) in a reactor using high temperature torches (up to 10,000 deg F). The feed can consist of any carbonaceous material, but it is exceptionally well suited to materials such as biomass, municipal waste and hazardous waste.

Source: Westinghouse Plasma Corp. Process Block Flow Diagram for IPGCC Plant

Once the syngas is produced, it can be used for electricity generation (burned in a gas turbine), converted to chemicals (via a variety of pathways), or used to produce steam in a boiler.

Plasma gasification offers an alternative to municipal solid waste landfills and provides both a much smaller footprint and a useful product, electricity. The company highlighted in the above article CHO Power, has plans to build multiple plants in France over the next few years.

Will plasma gasification-based power plants become a significant part of the power generation infrastructure (and municipal waste disposal system) in the next few years? Only time will tell.

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