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Success for Korean Plasma Gasification Fuel Cell Demo

Success for Korean Plasma Gasification Fuel Cell Demo

27 October 2011

The fuel cell system supplied by Canadian fuel cell company, Ballard Power Systems to Korean plasma gasification firm GS Platech for a waste to energy demonstration facility is now operating successfully to provide power to the local South Korean electricity grid.

GS Platech’s pilot plant in Cheongsong is South Korea’s first commercial plasma gasification and vitrification system which utilises the GSplatech’s proprietary non-transferred plasma torch (200 kW X 2) and plasma cyclonic gasifier technology.

The facility is capable of producing sufficient high purity hydrogen to generate 50 kW power through the Ballard fuel cell stacks – supplied by Dantherm Power, Ballard’s backup power systems company.

“This is the first ever demonstration of a waste to energy system incorporating both of these technologies,” claims Jesper Themsen, managing director and CEO of Dantherm Power.

GS Platech says that it intends to further promote this solution to new customers worldwide and, to this end, recently hosted tours of the demonstration site in conjunction with the International Solid Waste Association World Congress 2011.

Attendees were shown the potential for this waste to energy system to address two key environmental issues in tandem: environmentally responsible waste treatment; and clean power production.

The project was undertaken as a national research project of the Korean Ministry of Knowledge and Economy with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of the Environment, under the framework of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate.

Read More

Solid Waste Powered Fuel Cell Demonstration
Ballard Power Systems, has partnered with GS Platech a subsidiary of GS Caltex to produce hydrogen from municipal solid waste to power fuel cells.

Landfill Gas for Hydrogen Fuel Cell Pilot Project in U.S.
BMW has launched the first phase of a program that it to validate the feasibility of converting landfill gas into hydrogen for use in fuel cell powered materials handling vehicles at its South Carolina facility.

The Fexibility of Plasma
Vitrification using a plasma torch can transform waste material into an inert, environmentally stable product. And what’s more, this product has a market in the construction industry, as Bénédicte Amiel explains

The flexibility of plasma

Thermal treatment of asbestos waste and fly ashes

Vitrification using a plasma torch can transform waste material intoan inert, environmentally stable product. And what’s more, thisproduct has a market in the construction industry, as BénédicteAmiel explains

One company that has put this concept to good use in the treatment of residues from the incineration of municipal solid wastes (MSW) and asbestos wastes is France-based Europlasma.

Figure 1. Dissecting the non-transferred arc plasma torch

Click here to enlarge image

What is plasma?
Plasma is a very hot gas characterized by the ionization of its atoms. Lying in a fourth state (compared with standard solid, liquid and gaseous phases), thermal plasma has higher energetic densities and capacities of heating than conventional heating tools such as burners with fuel oil, gas etc. It is obtained by heating air with an electrical arc maintained between two electrodes.

Torches manufactured by Europlasma are of tubular type with a non-transferred arc. This technology is characterized by a complete separation between the electrical arc, which remains confined in the torch between the two electrodes, and the bath of products that undergo fusion in the furnace. Only the plasma plume is in contact with the wastes being treated.

Europlasma’s plasma torch technology (see Figure 1) was first developed in the 1980s by EADS — a French aerospace company — to simulate the intense heat encountered by missiles and spacecrafts during atmospheric re-entry. Europlasma was founded in 1992 to develop and apply this specific lab plasma-torch technology to industrial processes such as waste treatment. As part of this technology transfer, torch performances and maintainability have been highly improved, particularly in the development of specially designed maintenance tools and in the increase of electrode lifetime.

For over a decade Europlasma has been working on hazardous waste destruction using the high temperatures provided by its blown arc, high-power plasma torches. While tests have been performed on asbestos, ashes (from incinerators and gasifiers), low radioactive waste, chemical weapons, medical waste and organic chlorides, the company has invested particularly in the handling of asbestos-containing materials and ashes. This has resulted in the erection of industrial vitrification plants in both France and Japan.

Using plasma in the disposal of asbestos

Asbestos is a natural fibrous rock, valued for its resistance to high temperatures, chemical attack, micro-organisms and wear. The danger represented by asbestos does not lie in its chemical composition, but in its physical properties. Asbestos fibres settle at the bottom of the lungs and remain in the pulmonary fluid for more than 30 years after inhalation. Asbestos is a carcinogenic fibre and is classified as a hazardous waste.

The process of asbestos vitrification

Interestingly, France was the first country in Europe to ban asbestos (banned from 1 January 1997), and a treatment plant for asbestos wastes in Morcenx, France has been active for over ten years. Run by Inertam, a subsidiary company of Europlasma SA, the facility began operation by treating up to 8000 metric tonnes of asbestos-covered waste per annum. Since 2001, throughput has increased to more than 25,000 tonnes of asbestos-covered waste and more recently the site has expanded further, with the addition of a third processing line. Inaugurated in November 2005, the new line alone is able to treat up to 42 tonnes of asbestos-covered waste per day.

Waste arrives at the treatment plant pre-sorted. All waste is then crushed to the correct dimensions for entry into the vitrification process and is introduced to the furnace by an automatic system. This is what makes vitrification of such interest — 100% of the waste is processed and totally transformed into the resulting glass-like product. The furnace is heated by three plasma torches (two torches of 2MW and one of 500kW) and maintained at a temperature appropriate to the physicochemical characteristics of the wastes being treated. The piloting of the installation is carried out by computers in a dedicated control command room. Regulation of the functioning parameters of the furnace and torches is overseen by a posted operator. The furnace works semi-continuously: waste is constantly added to the furnace and the output is tapped about every hour. After exiting the furnace, the vitrifiat produced — termed Cofalit by Europlasma — is kept in a storage area for cooling.

Cofalit has been shown to be non-hazardous, and has the appearance of black glass or a basaltic rock. With excellent chemical, physical and mechanical qualities, it is sold as an aggregate for road foundations or incorporated in the manufacture of other construction products, such as flagstones.

The costs of plasma treatment for ashes

The costs per tonne of treating fly ashes using plasma-torch technology are highly dependent on the capacity of the installation, its availability, the consumables used, and the nature of the ashes. Such costs are specific to each project. The price is between 15% and 25% higher than that of landfilling when the unit is integrated in an incineration centre. Nevertheless, this extra cost should be seen against the environmental advantages of the process and the fact that the vitrified waste is a useable product that is sold as a road building aggregate.

Ash melting with Europlasma

As mentioned earlier, Europlasma has also targeted its technology to the disposal of ash from incineration, which is generally hazardous because of the many heavy metal pollutants (lead, zinc, copper, mercury) that are concentrated in the ash during incineration.

above Vitrifiat at its melting point

Click here to enlarge image

Treatment of such wastes is becoming increasingly important in today’s environment. Waste-to-energy facilities are being increasingly scrutinized and held accountable for the image they convey and for their environmental impact. Indeed, many stakeholders within and outside the waste industry are sensitive to the issues associated with incinerating waste. Solutions must be considered in the context of sustainable development. As a result, in more and more countries worldwide, regulations are evolving that focus upon the disposal of residues from waste-to-energy plants as well as from older incinerators that do not recover energy. Ash melting technology keeps pace with this thinking, offering a disposal solution that meets such tough standards.

The process of ash melting

Fly ashes are introduced continuously into the furnace (as before). In the central part of the furnace, one plasma torch generates thermo-chemical reactions and brings the ash material to its melting point. In this case, the temperature of the melting bath tends to be 1400°C to 1500°C, i.e. about 500°C above the temperature of incineration of the MSW. (The temperature required in plasma treatment depends on the melting properties of the materials being treated.)

The impact of the plasma plume on the ashes leads to thermal transfer and the generation of good quality vitrifiat in an oxidized environment. After rapid cooling of the vitrifiat — in this case termed Plasmalit by Europlasma — the pollutants contained in the material are once again immobilized so that the vitrifiat can be considered inert.

Europlasma has developed its activities in ash treatment principally in Japan in conjunction with partner companies Kobe Steel and Hitachi Zosen. It has offered diverse input, including the provision of the torch, designing the furnace, licensing use of the technology, and providing technical assistance for smooth operation. Four sites in Japan have been developed along these lines, with capacities between 10 tonnes and 42 tonnes per day. Also, in France, Europlasma has built a unit in Cenon, Bordeaux, (see photos, above) with a capacity of 10 tonnes per day

A useful and valuable end product: Plasmalit

The end product from plasma treatment of fly ash is termed Plasmalit and, like Cofalit, it is considered non-hazardous (according to the European classification of wastes). Plasmalit is attracting interest from manufacturers of concrete products because of its shiny black appearance, as well as its mechanical and environmental qualities. It is possible to integrate this material in the production of flagstones or paving stones to produce a natural-granite substitute. Plasmalit differs from Cofalit in that the former has been cooled down rapidly and appears like glass. Cofalit has been cooled down more slowly and looks more like basaltic rock.

left to right The asbestos vitrification line run by Inertam in Morcenx, France n Cofalit: an inert and non-hazardous vitrified product n The ash melting unit in Cenon, France

Click here to enlarge image

Europlasma is currently working in partnership with an Italian laboratory to use this material in architecture for acoustic and thermal insulation. A special study conducted by a committee of 15 members under the title ‘The Vivaldi programme’ explored the properties of Plasmalit. It highlighted the inert nature of the material (an important property if landfill disposal is required) and when examining long-term behaviour the material showed results similar to natural basalts whereby Plasmalit is non-hazardous over the long-term i.e. it is stable for more than 200,000 years.

Market outlook for plasma treatment

Thermal treatment of waste by plasma offers the industry a new way forward in terms of effective waste management. New applications are emerging, including, for example, the application of this approach to the treatment of sewage sludge. A licence has been signed by Europlasma and a Korean partner to install a sewage sludge treatment unit in the city of Yongin, South Korea.

Also high temperature solutions are being considered for removing tars and improving the purity and energetic quality of the syngas after gasification of wastes. The combination of a high temperature and an ionized gas exiting the torch supports a quick reaction time of the chemical components and the recomposition of the syngas into carbon monoxide and hydrogen. The purer the syngas, the better the yield of the gas turbine. Turbines work with CO and H2 (CO2 is an inert gas and is not suitable for driving the turbine), while syngas is composed of CO, H2, CO2 and CH4 (plus a few minor components). Purifying the syngas gives a higher proportion of CO and H2 and thus improves the efficiency of the final process. A dedicated research and development team at Europlasma is working on this new application, which has been named Turboplasma. Two projects using Turboplasma have been launched in 2007 and interest in this field continues to grow.

Bénédicte Amiel is Business Development Manager of Europlasma, France web:

James Middleton
23 Mar (5 days ago)
to timfurner, me, Christian, Edwin

Published on The Manila Bulletin Newspaper Online (

Home > Houston Firm Mulls Surigao City Projects

Houston Firm Mulls Surigao City Projects 5,000 tonnes per day plasma gasification facility

MANILA, Philippines — Quantum International of Houston, Texas and the City of Surigao have announced to jointly undertake energy and commercial development projects, including a regional plasma gasification plant that will handle treatment of municipal and industrial solid waste while at the same time producing electricity for the Mindanao region.

In a statement, the parties said they will also undertake one model biofuel operation for the treatment of agricultural waste. Both have agreed on the use of Quantum’s Advanced Building Systems in the construction of the planned commercial development projects in Surigao.

“We plan on promoting three types of advance technology which will answer many of the Philippines’ major problems,” said Surigao City mayor Ernesto T. Matugas in a statement.

“We are presently completing contracts for Mindanao’s first Plasma Gasification facility to be located in Surigao,” said Al Johnson, CEO for Quantum International, in the same statement.

According to Johnson, the group was originally planning to build a small plasma facility for Surigao only, but after meeting with the city mayor, “We are now moving to construct a regional plasma center that will serve the needs of all of Mindanao.”

Johnson said, this bigger “model” plasma facility will eventually process up to 5,000 tons of municipal and industrial waste daily, while producing up to 5,000 megawatts of electricity to be supplied to the entire region for its continued growth.

“To supplement this, we will also construct one model Bio Fuel operation to convert the area’s agricultural waste into commercial fuels,” he said.

Once fully operational and utilized at full capacity, Johnson said, this new supply of clean energy is expected to significantly reduce dependence on the normal electricity supply and will make power outages, usually common to the area, a thing of the past.

“I am extremely pleased with our dealings with Mayor Matugas and Surigao. They share Quantum’s desire to see the Philippines totally energy independent in a totally ‘green’ manner within a 5 to 7 year period using Plasma and our advanced Bio Fuel technologies,” he said.

Quantum’s advanced building technologies to be used in Surigao are already slated for numerous Asian commercial projects, but are also to be used for affordable housing projects for the Philippines and other countries throughout Asia.

Based on its website (quantumphilippines), the company has a joint venture for the hotel development and management of Lancaster Suites in Cebu and Manila.

Lancaster will become the international flag for most of Quantum’s resort operations throughout Asia. This will include new hotel projects in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and other locations.

Quantum has also plasma gasification and municipal waste elimination for the City and Region of Cebu as well as in Metro Manila and Luzon.

It has also an international regional hospital, medical training & research center in Cebu. Its hotel and resorts projects in the country are also using its own advanced ICF building systems.

Quantum specializes in various “waste to energy” projects, such as Plasma and Bio Fuels.

It is also heavily involved in advanced high efficiency building systems and construction of “model” construction projects, which serve as international examples of design, operation, efficiency and finance.

Ultimately, its goal is to create high quality buildings, appropriate to their settings, while at the same time being extremely functional and energy efficient. (BCM)

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Copyright 2012. Manila Bulletin | All Rights Reserved

1.25 Million Ton Order for Waste Gasification to Fertiliser Firm in U.S.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/kymmcleod

22 March 2012

BioNitrogen (PINKSHEETS:BION), a Florida based developer of gasification technology to produce urea fertiliser from agricultural biowastes has finalised a purchase contract with United Suppliers for the sale of 1.25 million tons (1.13 million tonnes) of nitrogen based fertiliser over a 10 year period.

United Suppliers is a sales, marketing and distribution specialist of chemical and other agricultural products.

said that it anticipates constructing one or more manufacturing facilities in the West Texas region.

According to the company, it will use commercially reasonable efforts to construct up to three manufacturing plants in the West Texas region that will be devoted to (i) the manufacture of the nitrogen-based fertiliser, and (ii) the fulfilment of the supply obligations set forth in the agreement.

BioNitrogen estimates that it will have output capacity of approximately 125,000 tons (113,000 tonnes) of product annually at each production plant.

United Suppliers agrees to purchase from BioNitrogen the nitrogen-based fertiliser products which shall be in standard granular form and contain at least 46% nitrogen content.

The company said that the term of this agreement shall commence on the date on which it completes construction of its first production plant and begins accepting purchase orders.

According to the company, upon completion it intends to operate its facilities seven days per week, 49 weeks per year.

Texan firm keen to address local power shortage

Eliza J. Diaz
March 20, 2012

TEXAS-BASED Quantum International (QI) has moved to strike deals for 10 plasma gasification power plants in the Philippines by 2014 in a bid to fill the electricity gap in Mindanao.

The power firm, which announced projects in Surigao last week, announced yesterday at a press briefing its medium-term plans to produce 13,000 megawatts of electricity daily once five of its plants become operational.

Plasma gasification facilities apply heat to waste to produce combustible gas which in turn is used to fuel electric turbines.

Output is seen to bring down power costs for the country. Furthermore, the use of industrial, commercial and household waste to produce electricity and alternative fuels will also help local government units phase out gradually landfills and improve sanitation.

“I would like to put up 10 plasma plants in the Philippines that you will have so much electricity, you will have to export it. I want five plasma plants in the Philippines this year. Next year, I’d like to do another five,” Al Johnson, QI chief executive officer and director of operations, told reporters.

“There will be five contracts done within the next 45 days. […] From the time the contract is signed, breaking ground will take 45 days. Building a plant will typically take 18 months, while smaller models will only need 12 months,” he continued.

For the first five facilities, QI intends to put up four plasma plants in Mindanao and one in Bataan, each with a waste processing capacity of between 2,000-5,000 metric tons (MT) daily.

The projects, Mr. Johnson explained, will be set up near dumpsites to ensure a steady flow of waste materials needed for the plasma gasification chambers.

QI has built plasma gasification plants for Japan and were later taken over by their local power companies.

The benchmark investment for a 1,000-MT plasma gasification facility is between $250-350 million.

After Surigao, QI is eyeing a power plant project in Davao, Mr. Johnson said further.

Copyright 2012 BusinessWorld Publishing CorporationAll Rights Reserved


Plasma Arc Waste Gasification Plant to be Made in Marion?

Image Credit: Shutterstock/Roman Pyshchyk

29 February 2012

The city of Marion, Iowa close to agreeing a deal that would see the development of a plasma arc waste gasification facility by Florida based Plasma Power.

According to a report by local newspaper, The Gazette, the City Council voted four to one accept a contract with plasma arc gasification specialist to supply its waste to energy facility, with the proviso that three changes are made to the proposal:

  • Lowering Marion’s basic 150 tons (136 tonnes) per day trash supply requirement by a corresponding quantity if Cedar Rapids or the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency later agree to also provide waste feedstock to the planned facility
  • Limiting Marion’s pass-through costs to no more than $150,000 a year
  • Guaranteeing that Marion receives incentives worth 10% more than any the company may grant feedstock suppliers.

Despite his dissenting vote, Mayor Allen Bouska is reported to have said that he supports the project.

According to The Gazette, council member Paul Draper added: “I’m pleased we’re moving forward in technology and won’t be sending our waste to a landfill on our north side.”

While the proposed contract sets an operational deadline of 1 January 2015, city manager Lon Pluckhahn is reported to have said that Plasma Power wants to have the plant running by the end of this year to get federal tax credits.

The contract doesn’t stipulate a location for the plant, which is claimed to be the first of its kind in North America. Bouska is reported to have said that the failure to guarantee a Marion location was a factor in his vote.

It’s expected the steam generated by the facility will be supplied to customers near downtown Cedar Rapids who lost their steam supply when Alliant Energy closed its Sixth Street Generating Plant after the Floods of 2008, according to the paper.

The report said that the city’s baseline tonnage requirement has been reduced from 250 tons (227 tonnes) in a previous version of the contract, and the city’s penalty for failure to provide the minimum amounts has been changed from a $1.5 million annual payment to the $38 per ton tipping fee charged by the waste agency.

According to the City of Marion’s website, the Executive Session regarding contract negotiations with Plasma Power, LLC, regarding the Plasma Arc project – as permitted under section 21.5(1)(a) of the Code of Iowa – was found to be an appropriate topic for closed session.

MARION, Iowa – Marion is closer than ever to converting its trash to energy instead of sending it to a landfill.

The City Council voted 4-1 Monday night to accept a contract with Plasma Power LLC, contingent upon three proposed changes, to provide trash for the Florida firm’s plasma-arc waste-to-energy plant. Despite his dissenting vote, Mayor Allen “Snooks” Bouska said he supports the project.

“We’re ahead of the ball game,” Bouska said after the vote, which followed a 90-minute closed-door session.

“I’m pleased we’re moving forward in technology and won’t be sending our waste to a landfill on our north side,” member Paul Draper said. “It’s a terrific thing for Linn County and the state.”

The contract’s approval is conditioned on Plasma Power management agreeing to three conditions:

– Lowering Marion’s basic 150-tons-a-day trash supply requirement by a corresponding amount if Cedar Rapids or the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency later agree to provide waste to the project.

– Limiting the city’s pass-through costs to no more than $150,000 a year.

– Guaranteeing that Marion receives incentives worth 10 percent more than any the company may grant future trash providers.

– Although the contract sets a Jan. 1, 2015, operational deadline, City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said Plasma Power wants to have the plant running by the end of this year to get federal tax credits.

The contract doesn’t stipulate a location for the plant, which will be the first of its kind in North America. It’s expected the steam generated by the facility will be supplied to customers near downtown Cedar Rapids who lost their steam supply when Alliant Energy closed its Sixth Street Generating Plant after the Floods of 2008.

Bouska said the contract’s failure to guarantee a Marion location was a factor in his vote.

The city’s baseline tonnage requirement has been reduced from 250 tons in a previous version of the contract, and the city’s penalty for failure to provide the minimum amounts has been changed from a $1.5 million yearly payment to the $38-per-ton tipping fee charged by the waste agency

Grid Injection from Plasma Gasification of Wastes
A project that utilises plasma gasification to generate a bio-substitute natural gas for direct injection into the national gas grid is under development by National Grid, Advanced Plasma Power and Progressive Energy.

Westinghouse NRG   The Plasma business accomplished a number of important strategic milestones that are illustrative of the larger sales pipeline that continues to mature.

  • ·        Sales of $6.7 million which is the largest annual plasma revenues in the Corporation’s history.
  • ·        Received a $22 million purchase order from Air Products, a US based Fortune 500 company for their Tees Valley project in Northern England which intends to take 950 tonnes per day of processed household waste and convert it into 49 MW of electricity, enough to power over 50,000 homes.
  • ·        Worked with SMS Infrastructures (“SMS”), who already has constructed two hazardous waste facilities in India using the Westinghouse Plasma technology, and is now pursuing two additional projects and a further portfolio of hazardous waste projects which continue to advance.
  • ·        Provided syngas to Coskata, Inc. (“Coskata”) at the Westinghouse Plasma Centre in Pennsylvania. Coskata has a proprietary syngas to ethanol conversion technology that is using the Westinghouse Plasma technology to create syngas from biomass and waste.
  • ·        The Coskata technology has been chosen for a waste to ethanol project in Australia that is being advanced and is expected to be a $50 million technology sale to Alter NRG, upon successful development. The consortium (called Flex Ethanol) performed a successful waste to ethanol test at the Westinghouse Plasma Centre.
  • ·        Executed upon a $1.9 million sale of plasma torches for use in an industrial application.
  • ·        Finalized the detailed engineering for the construction of a demonstration facility by Wuhan Kaidi (“Kaidi”) in the Wuhan province of China and constructed the plasma torches. Upon successful demonstration, Kaidi has up to 150 biomass-to-energy projects which they expect to develop in the Central China market over the next 15 years using the Westinghouse Plasma technology. The revenue to Westinghouse Plasma is expected to be US$3 to US$5 million per facility.
  • ·        Advanced the detailed engineering and construction of the plasma torches for a demonstration facility in Shanghai which will be integrated with an existing incinerator to take the incinerator ash as well as other difficult feedstocks. Upon successful demonstration, the revenue to Westinghouse Plasma is expected to be US$5 to US$10 million per additional facility and they have identified 13 current incinerators around Shanghai as targets.
  • ·        Completed the second phase of engineering on a project in Minnesota being developed by the Koochiching Development Authority. The proposed project which is to be located in Koochiching County in Northern Minnesota is called the Renewable Energy Clean Air Project. This project could result in an approximate US$12 million technology sale.
  • ·        Received the first milestone payment on a license agreement in Australia and New Zealand with Phoenix Energy (formerly Moltoni Energy) for $5.75 million payable in increments over 5 years. Phoenix Energy is a private development company with experience in both waste and large power facilities and they have a dozen planned energy-from-waste projects in the region.
  • ·        Continued the regulatory process and stakeholder relations efforts for the Dufferin County energy-from-waste project in Ontario, Canada, an approximate 6.5 MW facility. This would be an approximate $12 million sale of Westinghouse Plasma equipment.
  • ·        In addition to the above highlights, Alter NRG tours potential new customers to the facilities in Japan, India and the Westinghouse Plasma Centre operated by us Madison Pennsylvania on a regular basis. In the last 6 months, we have had numerous Fortune 500 and equivalent companies perform further due diligence on the Westinghouse Plasma Solution and are negotiating various license agreements. We expect to be adding new strategic, and industry leading customers in 2012.

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