Achieving Zero Waste with Plasma Arc Technology

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Achieving Zero Waste with Plasma Arc Technology

Transcript Of Achieving Zero Waste with Plasma Arc Technology

Achieving “Zero Waste” with
Plasma Arc Technology
Louis J. Circeo, Ph.D.
Director, Plasma Applications Research Program
Robert C. Martin, Jr. Michael E. Smith
Electro-Optics, Environment and Materials Laboratory

Achieving “Zero Waste”
Plasma arc technology offers a unique opportunity to achieve the “zero waste” goal by providing the capability to eliminate the need for land disposal of many hazardous wastes and to recover energy from municipal solid wastes and other organic wastes while producing salable byproducts and eliminating requirements for landfilling of ash or other residual materials.

What is PLASMA?
• “Fourth State” of matter • Ionized gas at high
temperature capable of conducting electrical current • Lightning is an example from nature

Non-transferred arc plasma torch
In a plasma arc torch, the plasma gas serves as a resistive heating element to convert
electricity into heat. Because it is a gas and cannot melt, temperatures in excess of 7000°C
can be produced.

Plasma torch in operation

Characteristics of Plasma Arc
• Plasma acts as a resistive heating element that cannot melt and fail
• Produces temperatures of 4,000°C to over 7,000°C • Torch power levels from 100kW to 200 MW produce
high energy densities (up to 100 MW/m3) • Torch operates with most gases – not a combustion
process • Elimination of requirement for combustion air
– Reduces gas volume requiring treatment – Reduces potential for formation of complex organics (i.e.,
dioxins and furans)

Plasma arc technology is ideally suited for waste treatment
• Hazardous & toxic compounds broken down to elemental constituents by high temperatures
• Organic materials
– Pyrolyzed or volatilized – May be converted to fuel gases – Amenable to conventional off-gas treatment
• Residual materials (radionuclides, heavy metals, etc.) immobilized in a rock-like vitrified mass which is highly resistant to leaching

Plasma arc technology remediation experience

• Heavy metals • Radioactive wastes • Industrial sludges • Municipal solid waste • Electric arc furnace dust • Liquid/solid organic

• PCB’s • Asbestos • Chemical wastes • Medical wastes • Plastics • Used tires

Waste Processing Applications
Plasma Arc Technology

Waste Destruction

Energy/Material Recovery

Waste Destruction Applications
• Melting and vitrification of inorganic materials • Pyrolysis of organic materials
– Molten metal or glass bath provides heat transfer – Heat causes breakdown of complex materials into elemental
components – Rapid quenching prevents complex compound formation
(dioxins and furans) – Water gas shift reaction to remove carbon
• C + H2O → H2 + CO
– Gaseous products are fuel and simple acid gases – Vitreous residue is resistant to leaching – suitable for aggregate
MaterialsWastesGasTemperaturesPlasma Arc Technology