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Plasma positives

By Today's Moderator.

 H/ T to Autonomous Mind. This is is a comment  he left a few days ago on a Daily Mail article about rubbish disposal.

There is a simple solution to disposing of rubbish that would go into landfill – PLASMA GASIFICATION. It is a safe form or incineration that doesn’t put dioxins in the air and leaves only a small amount of residue which is inert and can be used as hard core for roads and developments. Plasma gasification units, which have a 35-45 year life and would pay for themselves within 10 years, can also work in the same way as combined heat and power units. Instead of putting waste into landfill, incurring huge costs thanks to the EU, landfill can actually be emptied and sent for gasification thereby generating power and solving the waste problem. Ask your local and county councils and councillors why they are not installing this technology instead of burying rubbish or using incinerators.

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Reader Comments (26)

There's an implicit assumption here that it is better to do sensible things and unwise to do stupid things. That may be the way the autonomous mind thinks, but the institutional mind appears to have a different view. In this philosophy it is better to do things which extend the power and control of the institution whether sensible or not.

On the actual plasma vs landfill thing, just give us the numbers, we can work it out for ourselves. At the limit, I expect to be able to sell my rubbish to whoever will give me the best price or service, bearing in mind that it is cost-intensive to move waste of moderate energy intensity to the plasma burner, and that there is no shortage of landfill in the UK, EU regs having been prompted by lobbying from the Netherlands, where every hole you dig seems to be full of water.

Oct 16, 2012 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


Doesn't sound organic or Green to me.

Must be extremely dangerous to us somehow.

Best employ the uncertainty principle.

Oct 16, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Rhoda, You expect to sell your rubbish? Good luck on that. We have to pay through local taxes to have ours carted away. Our more voluminous trash we have to load in our own vehicle and take it to a centre on the outskirts of town at our own expense and contributing our own carbun polloochun. Very green as you can imagine.

Oct 16, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

I think Geckko means the Precautionary Principle.
rubbish can also be reduced in biodigesters to produce methane burn this to produce energy. The digester waste can be used to fertilize the fields. This is already done by some farmers in the UK.

Oct 16, 2012 at 10:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Both the subject of this piece, and John Marshall's thoughts, make sense.

Which means the 'man-made' global warming crowd will automatically reject both.

Oct 16, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterOtter

John Marshall:

There are strict rules concernng what can and cannot go into anaerobic digesters. Farm-based AD plants tend to use animal waste (dung (nothing personal), chicken litter etc) which has to be blended with food crops (maize etc) to get the right mix. So it's another renewable process that can result in putting up food prices and can involve long transport issues for both the input and the output (more comes out the back-end than goes in the front-end). Domestic waste tends to go into commercial AD plants, usually situated where there are good road communications on the outskirts of large conurbations where there is lots of waste. Animal by-poducts are hazardous waste and have to be treated separately (eg in a rendering plant). Generally speaking, if waste goes into an AD plant, then waste comes out the back end and has to be disposed of as waste, not fertilizer.

Oct 16, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

John in France:

It goes like this. If 'they' are going to get some benefit from my waste, run a business which depends on it, I should be able to charge for it. If on the other hand I have to pay to have it taken away, I don't want to conform to a load of onerous conditions, I am the customer and I should have a chance to pick the terms.

The real world is of course not quite in conformity with my notions on this.

Oct 16, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Yes Rhoda, in the immortal words of Private Sam Small -..."or it stays where it is on t'floor.

Oct 16, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

I was unfamiliar with plasma gasification. Here's an article about it from the New York Times:

The New York Times is extremely pro-green, and still the article is largely positive!

Oct 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterSara Chan

AM is clearly in the pay of Big Plasma. They've been sitting on this for decades waiting for a subsidy stream to appear...

But in all seriousness, you can use the same technology to gasify coal.

Oct 16, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

I'm glad to see that, by and large, the commentators have put their finger on the reason why cost-effective technology will not be considered. The green mindset is:

Rubbish is bad, m,kay..?
People who produce rubbish are bad, m,kay..?
Allowing bad people to improve their lives is cheating Gaia, m,kay..?

because people who are bad must suffer, m,kay..?

Oct 16, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Why not combine a plasma gasification unit with a kitchen sink macerator.

Then produce household heat and electricity from potato peelings and and the rubbish we currently have to sort out into 8 different coloured bins.

Win-win I reckon.

Oct 16, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

A very nice idea.

It makes a lot of sense.

It stands no chance.

Oct 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve C

Plasma Gasification is not that new in terms of technology, its the applications which are now being developed. As the post says household rubbish can be turned to gas which some energy from waste plants use to drive gas turbines for power generation or the gas can be used to make bio-ethanol i.e. a fuel. Many airlines are looking at this and in fact BA is looking to build a plant in London to produce it for their city airport fleet. Do a google search for Solena and Greensky project, this should give you some background.

Oct 16, 2012 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMactheknife

The "environmentalists" do not want to solve environmental problems for the same reason that pornographers don't want everybody happily married.

Oct 16, 2012 at 6:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

News is already happening.
Air products is building a waste gasification plant near Hull (I think).
So, in a couple of years, there should be some hard data on performance, costs, etc.

Oct 16, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

There have also been processes for transforming waste into oil, notably thermal depolymerisation. The company CWT, after at least one bankruptcy appears to be still limping on.

Another similar technique is here:

I have to say I find these technologies, if they can be made work and made profitable, far more worthy of encouragement than transforming food crops into motor fuels - which I have always found revolting.

Oct 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

A MHD generator turns your garbage directly into electricity.

Oct 17, 2012 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

An efficiency feed in tariff - won't this lead to a perverse incentive to use loads of electricity in year 1 and then not a lot in year 2 and rake in piles of cash?

Oct 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

John Silver: You still need to transform your garbage into a combustible liquid or gas, so it's not direct. Here's a diagram of the whole process as proposed:
As with most modern gas plants, it's a cogeneration process; I suspect that what they refer to as a "thermal energy unit" is a steam turbine. Of course once they've got the gas they could still use MDH if they can get them to work better than gas > steam cogeneration.

Oct 17, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

Yes, this process seems to be the reverse of MHD generation. Would be cool to combine them

Oct 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

Can't imagine how. And it doesn't alter the fact that first you have to transform your waste into a combustible, whether in gas or liquid form.

Oct 17, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

Correction: just looked it up here:
An MHD generator could certainly be inserted into a cogeneration setup where it would replace the gas turbine; but if I have understood correctly there would be considerable heat left in the exhaust making it possible to fire a steam boiler supplying a turbine. Let's hope someone will be able to see this through.

Oct 17, 2012 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn in France

In my town (USA), scrap metal is worth enough that pickers come by every street before the trash men, and the city approves of this--they don't want metal. If you put out a big piece of metal with the recycle they leave it on the curb. You would think if it is worth enough for the pickers it might defray some of the trash pick up cost, but you would be guilty of thinking logically.

Oct 17, 2012 at 8:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

"Generally speaking, if waste goes into an AD plant, then waste comes out the back end and has to be disposed of as waste, not fertilizer."

Digestates - solid and liquid - produced to PAS 110:2010 are used as fertilising materials. This relies on source separation of the feedstock wastes and specifies controls on input materials and the management system for the AD process.

At issue is the relatively low concentration of plant nutrient elements, versus the cost of road transport to a suitable point of use.

Oct 18, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterFilbert Cobb


In the UK we have a different problem...people come round at night and remove garden gates and similar metal objects before you decide whether you want to keep themn or not...:)

Oct 18, 2012 at 4:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

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