Plasma Arc gasification is the process of that utilizes a plasma torch or plasma arc using carbon electrodes, copper, tungsten, hafnium, or zirconium to initiate the temperature resulting in the gasification reaction. Plasma temperature temperatures range from 4,000 °F – 20,000 °F (2,200 °C – 11,000 °C), creating not only a high value syn-gas but also high value sensible heat. The technology has been used for decades to destroy wastes that may be hazardous. The resulting ash is similar to glass that encapsulates the hazardous compounds.
The first Plasma Arc unit began operation in 1985 at Anniston, Alabama. The unit used a catalytic converter system to improve gas quality and the gasifier was designed to destroy munitions. The second system began operation in 1995 in Japan followed by the third system in Bordeaux, France, both design for MSW. There are other operating systems in Sweden, Norway, the UK, Canada, Taiwan and the U.S., Japan has added nine more since 1995. All of these are small in size but have the ability to scale up, using multiple units.
The advantage of the Plasma gasification is the high temperature that minimizes air pollutants well below those of traditional WTE facilities. At the elevated temperatures, there is no odor, and the cooled off gas has lower NOX, SO2 and CO2 emissions. The solid residue resembles glass beads.