Gasification of trash.
A local Michigan waste management company is asking to build a plant to turn trash into gas and make electricity with it. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not. The process involves grinding up the trash and then turning it into a gas using the high heat of a plasma chamber. Could this mean the end to land fills in the future?
The following from www.tech-fag.com explains how it works.
First, garbage is fed into an auger, a machine which shreds it into smaller pieces. These are then fed into a plasma chamber - a sealed, stainless steel vessel filled with either nitrogen or ordinary air. A 650-volt electrical current is passed between two electrodes; this rips electrons from the air and creates plasma.
A constant flow of electricity through the plasma maintains a field of extremely intense energy powerful enough to disintegrate the shredded garbage into its component elements. The byproducts are a glass-like substance used as raw materials for high-strength asphalt or household tiles and "syngas".
Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and it can be converted into fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas or ethanol. Syngas (which leaves the converter at a temperature of around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit) is fed into a cooling system which generates steam. This steam is used to drive turbines which produce electricity - part of which is used to power the converter, while the rest can be used for the plant's heating or electrical needs, or sold back to the utility grid.
Therefore, aside from the initial power supply from the community's electrical grid, the whole machine can produce the electricity it needs for operations. It also produces materials that can be sold for commercial use so, at some point, the plasma gasification system will generate profit for its users.