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Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

To all,

It is my understanding that, since 2006, St. Lucie County in Florida is planning to build the "worlds largest" plasma based garbage/trash waste vaporization and power generation facility.

A company called "GEOPLASMA" is promising a $425+ million dollar - 160MWE(gross)facility; with 120 MWe available for sale to the grid.

3000 tons per day of trash will be consumed (!!???)



The main GEOPLASMA proponent of this plant is an Atlanta based developer and president of GEOPLASMA, Hilburn Hillestad; a former ecology/biology instructor.



County officials are smiling, non-technical people are pontificating, snarling lawyers and greedy developers are shaking hands and counting the money that they hope to soon make.....

Oh.....ummmm.....they don't seem to have an experienced engineering firm on board yet.....(!!??)

And....um...they seem to be claiming to be able to use the "low grade" heat generated by the plasma arcs as contributing to the generated megawattage of the plant.

(This is equivalent to claiming the heat expelled by cooling towers in a conventional power plant as available for generation !!!)

This new plasma zapper will be the largest in the world (by an order of magnitude !!). Smaller, demo plants have been built in Japan and Italy with limited sucess.

Anybody smell a rat ?

 I do not believe that the plant will work, as advertised thermally and I believe that St. Lucie County and its moronic lawyers, consultants and MBAs are being blinded by "Greenness"

Does anyone else have doubts about this project..??

My opinion only..



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

See thread730-204617: Too good to be true?

This has been discussed a couple of times before here, but that thread is the most recent that I'm aware of.

Believe it if you need it or leave it if you dare. - Robert Hunter

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

"And....um...they seem to be claiming to be able to use the "low grade" heat generated by the plasma arcs as contributing to the generated megawattage of the plant."

Well, sure!  They'll pipe steam to all the local homes so they can use it for heating.  In Florida.  Yeah.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Wow... I wonder why no Engineering firm will touch this yet?!


RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Take a look at my post on this from last year.  For some reason I'm still mildly optimistic about it even though I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be.

There are a number of different companies doing basically the same thing.  One of them does have some engineering pedigree.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County


10 years or so ago, the idea was a big one for disposal of hazardous waste, and the US Army looked into it for disposing of chemical weapons stocks.  I tried googling for "chemical weapons plasma disposal", and could not find any info. about it on the military sites.  Apparently the current methods used are straight thermal oxidation (incinerator) plants, with scrubbers on the exhaust stacks.

One site I found had a news brief from the "Concerned Citizens Against Chemical Weapons" or some such group, that described a trial of the plasma "burners" performed by the Army.  Apparently, the process could not demonstrate control over the effluent gas, and would at times emit a variety of toxic gases (cyanide, dioxins...), even though the waste stream being processed wasn't anything particularly nasty, and the exhaust stream was being passed thru a "polishing" process.  

Dunno if it's matured any.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Well in the article I read one of the companies listed the US Army and I think Japan using it for just that purpose.

That could just be sales blurb though.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

KENAT, et la....

To the best of my recollection...

For the past 8-12 years, there have been two small demo plants in Japan that use the plasma process to dispose of waste. Little electric power is generated.

The Japanese plants use a Westinghouse "torch", there others out there. The plants were built and supported by the Japanese government because of the trash crisis in the country and the difficult nature of the specific waste.

This plasma process consumes expensive electrodes and requires the containment, capture and compression of very hot and erosive gasses. (this does not sound cheap to me). There have been etensive long-term research programs dedicated to extending the life of these electrodes.

Along comes GEOPLASMA, and a busload of USAToday reporters...the largest Plasma-based trash disposal plant in the world will be now located in Florida, will be economic to run, meet all of Florida's enviornmental requirements and will make everybody tons of money, because it will be an economic success.......  

um........ but..... there may be a few small engineering problems for someone to work out..... before we can reap all of the big money.

I am sure that there will be no problems with a technology that has been around for decades and the largest plant in the world that is trying to implement this technology...

Where are the Bechtel/Shaw/Jacoby and Fluor Engineers trumpeting such a plan ? Where are the conceptual plant drawings websites, cost studies etc.....!!??

My opinions and thoughts only..



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Kenat, good links.

I remember the media rave about the incinerators in UK but it was eventually an embarassment.

There has to be a byproduct, right? Some sort of killer carcinogenic emission that needs to be managed. The physics and logistics of having the trash on the doorstep, backlogging, maintenance, downtime still not going to look pretty is it? Will be sized that it will beat the growing trash pile?

Robert Mote

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

If it were true, Haliburton would be building it in Irag.Of course the cost would be about 4 times what it should cost.

Richard A. Cornelius, P.E.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

To all.....

We shall see.... The Plasco plant has only been producing power since late January.

This particlar plant burns the synthetic gasses in multiple GE Jenbacher IC engines, much like those IC engines long used to burn methane generated from landfills.

Oh, and by the way, any energy used "within the fence" to run cooling towers, gas compressors and the like does not count as energy used for "homes and businesses"

According to this website: http://www.zerowasteottawa.com/

"January and February have been exciting months for PlascoEnergy at our Trail Road facility. On January 24th we received our first load of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to the site. On February 7th we delivered our first power to Hydro Ottawa using MSW as our feedstock, this was accompanied by a visit from the Mayor of Ottawa and later on in the day the Mayor of Calgary."

Yup....mayors, governors, lawyers and other dignitaries have been by for a visit.

Ummmmmm... isn't this plant supplementing the "synthetic" gas generated with a stream of natural gas.....to stablize th heat value of the......of course........

Will there someday be an objective, definitive and scientific report generated describing the economic success (or failure) of this particular Canadian plant ?

Eh ?




RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County


Check out this recent presentation......


Anybody have any comments about slide #12 ??? (which seems to be the only PFD available to date on this process)

Simple, little matters like designing waste-heat steam generators in corrosive atmospheres equipped with burners of truly unique design, seem to be of no major concern to the lawyers, developers, MBAs and project proponents  ......  leave these details to the low-life subcontractors  ... Bwaaahahahahah...!!

Oh yeah....those compressors necessary to feed hot, corrosive syngas to the "gas turbine"....has anyone ever made anything like this before..??? How much energy will they consume......?

Who will develop, design and test this first-of-a-kind "syngas" combustion turbine ? Is there another like it that exists in the world..??? (the answer, of course, is no...)

Tell me where I am wrong here......

-My opinion only



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

To all..

More interesting recent info from GEOPLASMA....


Look carefully at page # 12..

As I see it, there is a requirement for a HRSG upstream of the gas clean-up... the SYNGAS will be very corrosive

Compression of this corrosive mixture, but not CO2 and N2 removal is required.... anybody sense that this will be costly ?

Oh, and according to figures from Georgia tech, the generated SYNGAS will be very dilute and have a calorific value of only ~150 BTU/scf.

The best gas turbines on the market today require 250-300 BTU/scf (landfill gas applications)

Are these not significant technical issues that can only be solved by new research into new types of equipment ?

Does nobody else sense that we are witnessing an episode of "MBAs GONE WILD"....????



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

MJ, one of the other companines, the main subject of my original post, claimed to have some method for dealing with the Syngas if I recall correctly.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

To all..

This long-delayed, "largest-of-it's-kind-in-the-world" plasma trash disposal plant has attracted the attention of the medical community:


Plans for a similar trash plant in Sacramento California, (US Science & Technology -not GEOPLASMA) are facing similar scrutiny:





RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

mjcronin:  I dug through Plasco's site (the company running the Ottawa demo) and suggest that you do the same as you seem really interested in this one- and report back.  There appear to have been major additions to the site recently.  

They no longer seem to mention the secondary (calorific) feed stream which I presumed was dry biosolids.  They do mention that their feed waste contains up to "8% non-recyclable plastics otherwise destined to landfill"- that's a fair bit of fuel.  

I didn't see a mention of the "vitreous solid product" (slag)'s properties (either test results or statements that it passes leachate toxicity tests), but I didn't have the time to look too hard.  They have made major changes in equipment to their demo unit, some of which are on-going.  Doesn't bode well for the much larger St. Lucie project that the other guys are planning- without the demo phase unless I've missed something...

Apparently, Red Deer Alberta is letting Plasco build a 300 T/d unit (I paraphrase) "as soon as the Ottawa demo unit shows promising energy efficiency, expected in early 2009".  So it doesn't quite sound like they're there yet, but some folks are already lining up to let them have another, bigger crack at it.

They are apparently meeting their dioxin emission target from the Ontario government, but their dioxin emissions are definitely NOT zero.  Just because they're using hot plasma doesn't mean that all the gas goes through the hot plasma I guess...  They've exceeded on SO2 emissions and are apparently adding a sulphur removal step.  And they run IC engines with the syngas, not turbines, so that's got to hurt the energy recovery efficiency a bit.

Better for the environment than aggressive recycling, organic composting and dry landfill?  Maybe, if they can manage to off-set coal-fired generation by getting their energy efficiency up where they expect (hope) it to be, but probalby not- recycling and composting will get rid of too much of the feed's fuel value.  Better than conventional incineration?  That depends on how long the equipment functions without down-time etc.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Personally I feel that trying to figure out what to do with our trash is a total waste of time and a step down the wrong path.  Instead, the great minds of this world should be figuring out how to keep stuff out of the waste stream in the first place.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

to all...

Well, back last March I commented that plans to build the "worlds largest" plasma based garbage/trash waste vaporization and power generation facility seemed overblown and unwise.

The massive St Lucie plant would be the only one in the US and an order of magnitude bigger than any existing plasma based plant in the world. The estimated price was $450MM...

I noted that an Atlanta land developer and biologist was heading up the design and sales effort and was making, in my opinion, outlandish and extreme performance claims. This seemed odd...

I noted that no major architect-engineering firm was involved in the design, nor had there been any studies by major equipment suppliers for this unique one-of-a-kind plant. IMHO, extremely hot corrosive gasses required scrubbing and compression, a substantial engineering challenge.

Well guess what..... in late September, the same developer now wants to scale the plant back from 3000tpd to 200 tpd.

Read up....


What do you all think..???



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Or, maybe they're primarily a victim of the 'credit crunch', can't get the financing they need?

However, I suspect your thinking is at least partially correct.


Have you reminded yourself of FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies recently, or taken a look at http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

An update....

The troubles with the massive St.Lucie trash-zapper plant and the overblown claims by the developer are finally being realized....two years later.

An excerpt from that fine paper, The Sacramento Bee:

"Sacramento trash-to-energy plan raises red flags"

By Terri Hardy and Chris Bowman

Presented with a controversial and highly technical proposal to vaporize garbage into energy, Sacramento City Council members earlier this month wondered what other cities had found – and whether those lessons were being considered in Sacramento.

The plan's chief proponent, Councilwoman Lauren Hammond, said Friday that while she remains committed to working on a viable waste-to-energy plan for Sacramento, she believes the vetting process by the city's upper management was "done wrong."

"If we have to start all over, we start all over," Hammond said.

On Dec. 9, the council is scheduled to vote on whether to bind itself for decades to a company that vows to zap Sacramento's trash at the same price it would cost to bury it in a landfill.

Under the proposed deal, Sacramento-based U.S. Science & Technology and a consortium of energy and engineering companies would build a "plasma arc gasification" waste-to-energy plant at no cost to the city, then sell the energy for profit.

But a Bee review of two other municipalities that have considered the same technology – and evaluated proposals from companies involved in the Sacramento deal – raises several red flags:

• The effort is faltering financially in St. Lucie County, Fla. The developer there, GeoPlasma of Atlanta, has scaled back the proposed project by at least 80 percent.

• Los Angeles County rejected GeoPlasma's pitch at the outset, saying financial details and performance data were lacking.

• Environmental experts in both locales have questioned whether toxic metals would be filtered from the waste gas produced for sale to various energy buyers.

Process touted as clean, safe

The technology is alluring, scoring high in "gee-whiz" value and as an alternative to filling landfills. Gas heated to temperatures approaching those on the sun's surface vaporizes trash, producing a synthetic fuel. Also, the residual molten glass and metals can be sold as filler for road and building construction.

U.S. Science & Technology has told Sacramento the technology has been used for decades in steel plants. The group portrays the process as safe and cleaner than many other alternatives.

"We don't just want to build a facility in Sacramento to address the problem on municipal waste," the company's president, William Ludwig, said recently. "We want to give Sacramento the opportunity to be in a leadership position solving environmental problems."

The deal before the City Council would have Sacramento relying on the company to process waste at a steady flow of 2,100 tons per week.

GeoPlasma, the energy company that would build and operate the St. Lucie County plant in Florida, told officials there that the process would empty the landfill in 20 years.

Troubles with Florida contract

That promise fell through before construction even began. Initially, the plant was to process 1,000 tons of garbage daily, gradually ramping up to 3,000 tons a day. In September, two years later, GeoPlasma announced that it would vaporize only 200 tons a day, said Chris Craft, a St. Lucie County commissioner.

The St. Lucie team also includes Alter NRG and its subsidiary, Westinghouse Plasma Corp., which would design the plant. (Alter NRG and Westinghouse are part of the Sacramento deal, and GeoPlasma once was listed as a partner here, too.)

Craft said revenue troubles, not technological ones, were rocking the deal there. For instance, he said, a plan for GeoPlasma to sell steam from the facility to a nearby Tropicana juice plant didn't materialize.

Now GeoPlasma is scrambling to find more customers for the energy and recyclable leftovers, Craft said, to keep its promise not to charge the county more than it pays for sending its trash to a landfill.

Lack of details sends up 'red flag'

In Sacramento, financial details have not been shared with the city. U.S. Science & Technology said it would not divulge that information until the council had approved a binding agreement – a demand City Councilman Steve Cohn, an attorney, recently called a "red flag."





RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Another update... 1/17/09

The Sacramento City Council recently voted to direct city staff to stop working with the company that had proposed a waste-to-energy plant.. citing concerns about the project's financial viability and technology.

An investigation also found that similar projects in other cities were floundering and that Sacramento officials did not delve deeply into the professional backgrounds of the people behind the Sacramento proposal"



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

I would like to comment about the lack of understanding for a low BTU syngas to produce energy. Misunderstanding comes from ingnorance about modern gas turbines. Ge has developed the F Class turbines to be able to operated on sygas as low as 135 Btu/scf. They have succesfully operated these turbines on syngas from coal gasification for years. The highest btu value that a syngas can have made with CO and H2 is a little over 300 Btu/scf if the gas was made with O2 and around 150 Btu/scf if made with Air. We call this air blown or oxygen blown gasification. These turbines also work with a mixture of syngas and natural gas. Alstom and Siemens also have gas turbines that run on syngas.
The problem with these turbine is that they are all in the 100 - 300 megawatt range. Any gasification plant would have to gasify 1000 to 3000 tons/day to feed these turbines.
That is the other problem. A prototype plant would have to be in this range because without the gas turbine there is no hope of making any ecomomics work. My estimate for a 3000 ton/day plant would be approx. 700 million for hard costs. Also to guarantee that a plant like this could be completed it would require another 200 million to be able to iron out the bugs once the plant is build.
I believe the technology is available and for a large plant which could produce more that a megawatt of electricty per ton or waste compared with a small thermal plant at less that 300 there are some locations that could economically support such a plant with tipping fees and electricity costs combined.

Also people need to understand that CO2 is a product of combustion and is only bad when we are burning fossil fuels. Once we create waste the carbon in the waste will eventually make its way to our atmosphere hopefully in the form of CO2 and not some other actually harmfull gas like an oxygenate hydrocarbon or methane like from MSW dump sites. It would be beneficial to be able to get some energy out of it first. An efficient msw plasma gasification plant would be able to increase the ratio of energy over the production of CO2. This would have the effect of lowering the CO2 produced from fossil fuels.

I would like to answer any question any one may have about gasificaton. There are alot of misconceptions out there.
How do I know. I have studied gasification for the last 8 years. My company is actively pursuing the financing of gasification. We have worked with alot of major technology companies like GE, Alsom, Siemens, Kabelco, Westinghouse Plasma and a short list of smaller companies with technologies that add up to a complete technology package.
That as I have said is not the problem financing is and once that is overcome this technology will become viable and maybe in the next 5 to 7 years.

The real question is "How do you finance a billion dollar project where that project is the prototype?"

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

By the exact same logic, sequestered carbon is sequestered carbon:  it doesn't matter whether the origin of the carbon is biological or man-made.  Doesn't matter if it's wood that's used as a durable construction material, or non-compostable non recyclable waste stored in a dry landfill, or CO2 recompressed and shoved back into an oil formation- it all has the same effect.

You are correct that unsorted municipal waste is as risk of generating methane/CO2 by anaerobic degradation, making the greenhouse gas situation far worse than if we burned the waste.  However, municipal waste with compostables and recyclables removed has a pretty low energy content, and very little propensity to generate methane/CO2 when buried in a dry landfill.  

Even in a conventional "hole in the ground" landfill, while some biodegradation occurs, the bulk of the degradable waste is preserved.  You can dig up newspapers from 100+ years ago and READ them.  In the fully anaerobic portion of the waste column, you can even find readily degradable items like heads of broccoli that is 10+ years old and perfectly preserved.  The local science centre has a lovely garbage column from a local landfill displayed in a glass vacuum/inert chamber which illustrates this fact very nicely.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Is CO2 sequestering really the same as Carbon sequestering?

If you did enough of it is there any danger of depleting the oxygen in the atmosphere?

My guess is the amount of oxygen is so large than human kinds ability to pump some of it underground as part of CO2 wont make much difference.  Then again supposedly we've underestimated man kinds impact on the environment before.


Have you reminded yourself of FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies recently, or taken a look at posting policies: http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Since the AGW problem results from too much CO2 in the atmosphere rather than too much C in the biosphere, removing that atmospheric CO2 (i.e. including one mole of O2 with every mole of C) shouldn't be a problem.

As to running out of oxygen, as long as we don't run out of water we're fine.  Water is the electron donor most often used in photosynthesis- the oxygen liberated comes from the water.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County


If I understand your line of reasoning, the St. Lucie plant was proposed to be so large because of the available sizes for gas turbines..??

Is there a physical reason why that must be ? Must all low-btu fueled gas turbines be  in the 100-300 MWe range..... or was that a business decision by the GT vendor ?

My original motive in starting this thread was pure purple outrage....

Outrage at non-qualified people making claims about power plant design..... an area where they seemed to know little.

Outrage at newspapers like USAToday that were happy to run articles about the massive 3000 tpd St. Lucie plant that could not possibly come to fruition.

Agreements...disgreements.....anyone ??

This and all of my above posts are simply my opinion.




RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

That is correct. There are no more than a handful of combined cycle gas turbines that can operate on low btu syngas (CO & H2). They were developed because of the coal gasification industry. I should say that it was not so much that the turbine was developed but that the combustor was developed for these large capacity turbines.
As I said GE, Siemans and Alstom all have a few models.
The St. Lucie plant is developed around the Westinghouse plasma torch. Westinghouse plasma corp. spun off of Westinghouse when they fell apart. Westinghouse Plasma also developed a complete plasma gasification process, mostly just the gasification module which can be scaled up to 500 t/d. A 3000 t/d plant would require 6 of these.
The people a Westinghouse Plasma have been working on plasma gasification for 60 years. They are the PhD types. They never pursued complete plant design. However their process is being used at 2 gasification plants (steam only) in Japan and in numerous other process including vitrification and smelting.
We along with other groups have been working on a complete gasification process designed around the westinghouse gasifcation process.
We developed a plant design mostly theoretical but based on well developed and applied processes and we modeled the heat cycle with some expensive software.
Oh by the way we are not the people that developed the St. Lucie plant. They are however using a lot of our same concepts.
Personally I do not think that the St. Lucie plant will make it. Not because of their engineering but because the plant is under funded.
It is not hard to find qualified people to design a power plant. And there are a lot of companies out there that do just that.
I have seen a lot of projects fail not because of the engineering but because the project gets down to the end and they run out of money to finish the project. It takes money at the end of a project to make it work you might say. To resolve all of the little problems that occur. Lack of confidence will make money extremely hard to get at this point.
The technology approach that we have taken is the funding and the economics. We have determined that the economics will work only if you can get a fairly low heat rate from a plant. 10 and 12K heat rates from a steam process will never work economically. You have to have a combined cycle process with 40 to 50% efficiencies. You have to have good tipping fees from the waste and you have to have good power rates.
We have met with local and governmental officials in more than 30 locations around the world that have fair to good economics. Florida is not one of them.
We have concluded that a plant of this size is the prototype. It is so because you can not prove the economics otherwise.
The funding we figure for this size of first time prototype would need to be a billion dollars.
We have and are working with more that a dozen funding sources that are very promising and unique. Maybe we can do it and maybe not. The point I am making is it is not a technology or engineering problem.
I don't know who did the detailed plant design at St. Lucie but I do know that the process design is based on sound principles.
Our approach has been - Process design -Feasability - Funding -Detailed Engineering - Construction.
Their approach has been Process design - Detailed engineering - funding - feasability (or something like that). I know they are underfunded and it is not feasable to have a plant in but a few places in the United States and Florida is not one of them. They will not be able to service their debt.
I think that the future of engineering is and always will be to go were no one has gone before.
I could go on. Thank you for your questions. I hope I have been able to add some insight to this topic.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Do I hear the ring of truth?  Wait... NO, it's the splot of bull$#!+.  Nothing about this sounds like a legitimate engineering undertaking.

You are obviously not serious about demonstrating this technology on a manageable scale.  You only want more.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Here's a question for you, what proportion of the waste fed into this type of system needs to be organic (or otherwise suitably energetic or whatever the correct term is) for there to be a net energy output?

I've heard a lot of reports about how a lot of municiple waste is rubble or other non combustable waste.  How does this impact on the plasma process.


Have you reminded yourself of FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies recently, or taken a look at posting policies: http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

1) "That is the other problem. A prototype plant would have to be in this range because without the gas turbine there is no hope of making any ecomomics work."

A  billion or nothing ...eh

Caterpillar Solar also offers low BTU gas turbines for many decades

2) "It is not hard to find qualified people to design a power plant"...."To resolve all of the little problems that occur."

Oh yeah.....right..... and when you tell someone to specify and purchase a compressor for highly corrosive high temperature syn gas, its his problem to find one...right?

Tell the designer and supplier of the Heat recovery Steam generators he is going to see corrosive conditions never encountered before.. No problem

As a manager you can always hold a meeting....get outraged...!! This plant is going to be like all the others...

3) "I don't know who did the detailed plant design at St. Lucie but I do know that the process design is based on sound principles."

Really....? I strongly believe that this is not true.

Where can we all review the heat balance and discuss the materials selection ? There are lots of smart people on these fora....!!!

C'mon....If you are so confident...pdf something, post it and we can talk about it

I smell MBA..... and perhaps a military background


RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Typical MSW is approx 10 -12% inorganics, and up to 30% moisture, providing that the bulk organics like metal and concrete have been removed.
Typical waste has the ability to generate a megawatt per ton. This requires the following:
1. Typical MSW with no recycling i.e. plastic and paper included in the waste.
2. Low production of CO2. This represents lost energy.
3. High efficiency gas turbine combined cycle. i.e. F Class GE turbine
4. Gasification heat recovery.

The organics are converted to syngas N2, CO, CO2, H2, H2S, H2O, Ar, HCl, and other fuel type hydrocarbons equivalent to C2H4. Also there are small quantities of heavy metals and mercury.

The inorganics like metals and silicon are melted and vitrified into glass. No different than an iron smelting process.

Any waste can be processed into gas of glass or raw element. It is a question of economics. If a certain waste has a high btu value then the economics are in the production of power. If the waste has a high tipping fee then that is were the economics are. Some wastes are not economical to process. You have to look specifically at each one.
For example the law changed on hazardous waste, you now can thermally convert hazardous waste providing the fuel produced has a btu value greater than 8000 btu/lb.
The only way to do this is with a plasma process, and doing a water shift reaction. i.e. converting water and carbon into H2 and CO. This more energy. However this is economical because then you can charge $200 to $500  for that kind of waste.
I may not defend the St. Lucie project for reasons I have stated but I will defend plasma gasification as a viable concept that can be successfully engineered with current technology.
I appreciate your questions. They help me alot.


RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Pseudo-military, MJ.  Wannabe, perhaps?  Most ex-military are far more sensible.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County


I would like to talk about it. I would like to get out of the box and see if plasma gasification could be a feasable engineerable technology.
Maybe we should start a new thread.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

thread730-204617: Too good to be true? was a thread just generally discussing the process rather than the Specific St Lucie proposal.

It's closed now but by all means start a new one referencing that one and this.


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RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Hey lets not make criticism without careful thought and aimed at a handy target for attack.
I am fairly new in this venue and would like to learn something.
I know that good engineering requires being critical of processes but does that include people. If so I would be glad to join in.
As for sound principles. That is more likely an exageration.
Is that better.
I am not military nor MBA.

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Please note that the site rules preclude "Irritating Other Members" .  

HAZOP at www.curryhydrocarbons.ca

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Two years ago:


Two and a half years ago:


Its a lot of fun being a journalist writing about new things and powers sources that will never exist....!!!!!!

You can say anything, quote anyone....make any claim and no one will ever call you to task on it.

WHERE ARE THE PLANTS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

It is hard to defending the St. Lucie project. They will most likely run out of money before the plant is ready to run. You can imagine the rage to think that someone would dare try to do what they are doing and call it engineering.
Let's look at the technology an see if it can be engineered.
First the plasma gasifier parameters. This particular gasifier has three sections. The lower section has to work like a smelter with a bed of coke that is heated to 5000 degF with plasma torches. This provides surface area for the reaction with the waste and processes the inorganics. The next section  is bigger to handle the waste input, which is rammed in from the tipping floor. The organics are dried, pyrolysed and gasified. Then there is a freeboard section with enough volume to allow a 2-3 sec. residence time. This is where all the high temperature reactions take place. All compounds are disassociated and the available oxygen reacts with carbon to make CO. Hydrogen frees up. Some of the H2O reacts with carbon in a watershift reaction to make CO and H2. Sulfur reacts with hydrogen to make H2S. Clorine reacts with hydrogen to make HCl. There are no oxygenate hydrocarbons. They do not exist at this temperature. Air is also supplied to provide oxygen for these reactions. A gas in one particular situation might be as follows:
        vol%    wgt%
CO    23.51%    29.1926%
CO2    2.47%    4.8152%
N2    36.48%    45.3073%
Ar    0.43%    0.7649%
H2    14.81%    1.3238%
C2H4    1.31%    1.6328%
HCl    0.19%    0.3010%
H2S    0.07%    0.0993%
H2O    20.74%    16.5631%
Plus trace amounts of heavy metals, mercury and silica products. The waste that might produce this gas is as follows:

Newsprint    3.71%
Other Paper    19.48%
Food Waste    19.91%
Yard Waste    15.52%
Plastic            14.49%
Textiles    10.85%
Wood             3.84%
Rubber and Leather    0.66%
Metal             3.54%
Glass             2.60%
Other inorganic     5.40%

This reactor might be 10' dia at the bottom and 30'at the top and 60'tall. It will need to be lined with high temperature refractory material that will handle 2300 degF. The operating presure will be slightly negative.

Now for a little high temperature combustion theory. Combustion produces tars. There are three types. Primary, secondary and tertierary. Primary tars are a long list of really nasty stuff (oxygenated hydrocarbons) that start to break down above 600 degF. The secondary tars still have some of these compounds but above 1800 degF the tars that are left are considered to be fuels overall equivalant to C2H4 in ratio of carbon to hydrogen.

This reactor would have a waste feed of 500 t/d.
Coke at 24 t/d
Air at 654 t/d

Syngas 1092 t/d  LHV 2298 Btu/lb
Inorganic 86 t/d
This is an air blown plant. There is also an oxygen blown plant

Now my question. Without considering anything else, could I find a design for this reactor. Let's see hm there are hundreds of them. They may have different functions and be sized differently but the design approach would be the same.

Everyone has a lot of questions and opinions. Are the answers good enough when you get to the right level of detail? We shall see.  

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Will this never die......?

Won't psychotic MBAs and middle-aged Project Managers with determined expressions ever learn simple thermodynamics ?

"InEnTec of Bend OR has partnered with Waste Management Inc. to build its trash-to-gas machines at landfills across the country. The result could be a renewable energy dream"


I certainly understand that its a lot of fun to write a blog or newspaper and be hopefull about the future....but this whole thing is a hairsbreath away from a lie...

Comments Anyone ?


RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

Sometimes I wish I had the cojones to sell this sort of crap.  Seems that dupes abound.  Stupidity is out greatest economic resource!

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

St. Lucie Plant....is now back on track,,,!!!!

But....uuummmmm........we are now going to generate only......ummmmm.....22MWe (maybe) and we are going to have to charge a fee for collecting your trash....


We shall see..... in the meantime... It's important to note that this concept seems to have not taken kold in other parts of the world....????



RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

The Plasco guys in Ottawa are still going, apparently.  There's nowhere I can see clear and unambiguous information about how much energy this plant makes, if any, versus how much it uses.

I went to Plasco's website and followed a link to an Ottawa Citizen article which Plasco titled "Ottawa support for Plasco".

A letter to the Ottawa Citizen by an anonymous poster (Jan. 19 2010) begs to differ, raising some very interesting adn troubling concerns not mentioned on Plasco's company website.  It was posted in response to a columnist's suggestion that the local "green bin" organic waste diversion program will be too expensive and that Plasco is the answer.  FYI, Rod Bryden is Plasco's "chief executive".

(letter quoted below verbatim)

The Truth about Plasco
 January 19, 2010 - 11:38 PM
Randall Denley really needs to dig a little deeper when he's investigating Plasco Energy and not listen to Rod Bryden (Ottawa's biggest snake oil salesman).

1.)  They have never been able to run their test facility for more than 4-5 days at a time.  In order for serious Venture Capital money,  Plasco would have to run their plant for 30 days to be viewed as a low risk investment.

2.) They have generated close to zero revenue from Power Generation since their facilitiy started.  Plasco will tell you that they can run Engines from their Syngs but have they ever been able to run multiple engines at full 700 KW in order to produce more power than they use?   No....  

3.) They've spent millions of dollars in the last two years disposing of water that's so toxic, you couldn't sent it to the City's sewage treatment plant (where it was initially intended to go).  They finally had to build a multi million dollar expansion water treatment plant to clean up their water partially.  

Nobody actually wants to ask Rod Bryden the tough questions

1.) Why can't your plant generate power?

2.) How much money has the Pilot plant generated in Revenue in the two years?

3.) Why did you process create toxic water full of heavy metals and cyanides?

(end quote)

In the meantime, it appears that Red Deer, Alberta, is going to try this now too.

Will anybody other than potential Plasco investors look critically and technically at this process and determine if it really makes sense, both from a waste disposal AND energy generation perspective?  I hope so, but so far I don't see it.  What I see is politicians viewing landfilling as a serious NIMBYism problem which costs them votes, and hoping for the magical technological fix which will make this garbage all go away without the similarly NIMBY-phobic use of the word "incineration".   

RE: Plasma trash "Zapper" - Florida - St. Lucie County

I guess the best way to keep this thread alive is to point out that the real subject is "plasma arc gasification" and include this string in a post.

Here we are.... a couple of years after the USAToday article about the massive plant planned in Florida

The plant was not built....the liars were exposed....the system works.

I guess that I have more faith in the the decision making process of municipal governments.....



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