There is a great and scorching problem in contemporary, fast growing society, namely creation of huge amount of noxious refuse, called municipal waste, which is more and more dangerous to natural environment that we belong to.
Type of waste
Annual amount of trash per person [kg]
Typical waste constituents
Conventional utilization methods
All sorts of domestic refuse such as paper, plastics, metals, chemical compounds, and organic compounds, etc.
▪ Storage on landfills
▪ Simple incineration and production of by products such as ash, trash remnants, and some energy
▪ Biological dissociation of some organic waste
▪ Waste segregation
▪ Inspissations, granulation
Poisonous chemical refuse, radioactive waste, toxic gases, heavy metals, electronic trash, batteries, etc.
▪ Chemical neutralization
▪ Filtering off
▪ Inspissations, submerging, materials into slag, insertion into barrels and storage in water or mine
Medical remnants such as tissues, antiseptic gauze, hypodermic syringe, plastics, utensils, etc.
▪ Microwave disinfections
Remnants from conventional incineration.
Storage on landfills
All of the materials mentioned above are very Harmful for natural environment, particularly hazardous and medical wastes.
Great amounts of municipal wastes that are generated daily, lack of safe storage and processing costs cause threats to our health, drain taxpayers money and destroy delicate natural balance. These Wastes easily penetrate to ecosystem, contaminate soil, and ground water.
Conventional waste utilisation methods certainly do not solve problems, because the harmful residues such as ash, dust, gases left behind can not be filtered off even with the usage of innovative technologies. Municipal waste problem is undoubtedly waiting for proper solutions. Many meetings are held in the Ontario’s municipal offices, numerous articles recently appeared in press, all of them discussing this growing concern.
Protests from local communities, who live in the vicinity of landfills and incineration sites decorate columns of our newspapers, because their safety and well-being is constantly in danger.
Future municipal contracts for shipping refuse to Michigan will cease by 2010. What will happen when the border closes? The reasonable assumption is that even after we divert, compost, recycle, reuse and implement all the current waste diversion methods, Toronto will be stuck with 30–40 per cent of the waste. This includes 15 million chip bags, 10 million light bulbs, 5 million toothbrushes and 100 000 mattresses that Toronto sends to landfills each year (Toronto Star, Royson Jame).
We, the authors of this article, would like to present most favourable solution to this conundrum. The solution is a modern and clean technology of plasma utilization to incinerate all kinds of trash.
Plasma technology is known for more than a half of century and was developed and used particularly in metallurgy for production of high-grade steel. Today, it is widely used for municipal waste utilization. In Japan two converters are working already and transform 200 tons per day. Plasma technology is currently being developed in Italy, Spain and other European countries. In North America there are companies, which produce plasma converters that have mobile and stationary capabilities.
In Canada this technology only begins to claw and all initiatives in this direction are not seen with enthusiasm. Therefore, the goal of this article is to prompt Ontario’s government, the municipal authorities and people who are responsible for the utilization of municipal waste in Ontario and Canada to take the action.
Very hot plasma is formed by ionized gas (i.e. Oxygen, under normal pressure) in the strong electrical arc with the power ranging from 2 to 20 Mega Watts. Temperature of such plasma is very high, ranging from 2 to 6 thousand degrees Celsius. In such high temperature all waste constituents, including metals, toxic materials, silicon, etc. are totally melted forming non–toxic dross. Plastic, biological and chemical compounds, toxic gases yield complete dissociation (required minimal dissociation temperature is in the range of 1500 degrees Celsius) into simpler gases mainly H2 and CO2. Simpler gases, mainly H2 can be used as ecological fuel to generate heat energy and electrical energy decreasing significantly (even to zero) cost of plasma formation and waste utilization. Regained metals from dissociation process can safely return to metallurgic industry, and slag can be used as an additive to road and construction materials.
The utilization of municipal waste using this method does not cause the emission of foul odours and does not produce a harmful ash, which is something that normally takes place in an incinerating plant.
Fig.1. Plasma dissociation of toxic organic gases in temperatures ranging
3000 to 6000 degrees Celsius. Required minimal dissociation temperature of
organic molecules is in the range of 1500 degrees Celsius, which is close to
melting temperature of metals.
Fig.2. Plasma utilization of toxic municipal waste and specification and usefulness of output
With this article, we would like to popularize the usage of plasma arc gasification and vitrification technology for waste disposal. We would like to encourage investors to open up to this technology, and municipal government to direct waste disposal stream to us so we can show benefits. No one should be afraid of this technology, on the contrary, due to its advantages this technology should be implemented as soon as possible to preserve the clean environment on our planet and the health of its inhabitants.
Environmental management - Building a better environment.
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