Popular Science News $section News
  Get Popular Science posters here! > Subscribe | > Newsletter 

Home
PPX
What's New
How2.0
Photo Gallery
Blog
Science
Aviation & Space
Automotive Tech
Technology
Environment
Contact Us
Subscribe
Digital Edition
Customer Service
Gift Subscription
Current Issue
Media Kit
PS Showcase
PopSci Store
RSS

Enter e-mail address to receive popsci weekly updates to your inbox.



ad

« Three Wrongs Make a Murder | Main | The High-Tech Hunt For a Scientist Lost at Sea »

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341ca35253ef00d83516a83f69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Episode 32: Plasma Converter:

Comments

Joe

Great podcast, however, if you're wondering why nobody has heard of these guys perhaps it's because you never told us the actual name of the company! Do they have a website? Why don't they!? (if they don't). Where can I go to get more info about this thing so I can help spread the word?

Editor

Hi, Joe. The company is called StarTech. Sorry for the omission—it's been added to the blog post now.

Joe

Wow! Thanks for the quick response. They have a very thorough web site and I'm very impressed with their technology. I would love it if my town were to adopt this technology.

iPyramid

Interesting, except, not cost effective and the amount of energy that is used making one of those units just might, might be more than the amount the unit generates. So it might be a net loss of energy. It might be a net contributer to CO2. It might be harmful to the environment.

cr1t

Yes but you are forgeting that them main point of themachine is not to generate power but to get rid of waste. So if you think of all those greate big land fills wasting space and polouting the enviroment this seems like a brilliant option.

LJM

Really old landfills pollute the environment. Newer ones don't and actually make methane which is then converted to electricity. When the new ones are full, they are covered and built upon with no evidence of negative consequences.

Boone

Sure LJM, but what about hazardous material? The Plasma Converter can convert 300 barrels of hazardous hospital waste into just 1 barrel of harmless silicate. When converting high-energy feedstock such as plastics and tires, a unit of material that requires 1kw to process can produce up to 2.5kw of useable electricy. That means that this thing can power itself while it rids the earth of old diapers, Mac IIs, and crap(literally). And last but definately not least, this is a green source of hydrogen. Maybe someday soon we will be able to convert our trash into fuel for our cars!

Biff

There is no way that this can have positive energy flow. Plasma torches take a large amount of electrical current (Kilowatts) and the conversion of combustible gas back into electrical energy is at best 70-80% efficient.
Even if you take away the claim of positive energy flow. Disposing of waste this way will be expensive and would only be justified by only the most dangerous (read toxic) of waste chemicals.
I would like to see a thermaldynamic analysis of this process done by a impartial 3rd party before I would invest in this scheme.

Scott

Sounds like an early iteration of the Mr. Fusion device of "Back to the Future" fame. Pretty cool idea

Big Jon

I knew the Flux Capacitor was real .........

Boone

Don't right this technology off guys. These guys have been working with this technology since the 80's and it is finally becomming viable. The Department of Energy has given them several large grants to help with the development of their StarCell technology which can extract large amounts of Hydrogen from the PCG which the Plasma Converter creates. So far they seem to be focusing on using municipal waste to produce hydrogen.

There are also smaller trailer mounted units available for hazardous material nutrualization. These units can be brought on-site to destroy ANYTHING. They can be used to treat radioactive material, not eliminating the radioactivity, but greatly reducing the mass.

There is already a 200-ton-per-day plant under development in Panama and also in the China.

Boone

One time when I was doing some soldering on my car's tape deck I accidentally dropped a capacitor in some flux, but I just installed it anyways. When I was done I jumped in the DeLorean and cranked some Van Halen...10mph...30mph...60mph...88mph...1955?!

tell

One thing that surprises me,if this is really the answer to our nasty waste management,why is it not in mainstream news today?

Ed

As to why it has not already been adopted, how about the greed and selfishness of those making money off the current way that waste is disposed of. There is an article in this months issue of Popular Science that gives a decent overview of the issues involved.
The process runs off of a third of the power it generates and sells the rest to the grid. Thats doesn't sound like a net loss to me. As was already mentioned, it takes care of a vital long term need for clean waste disposal, not hiding it as we currently do, and it provides very useful products.
Would you rather we bury the planet in our waste?

Tim

quote: "why is it not in mainstream news today?"

Um, besides the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, ABCNews, and a slew of newspapers, all quoted on thier "News" page? Clue: It won't appear on your local channel 9 news until they open a plant in your area.

another quote: 'because of the greed of those currently making money off waste disposal'.

Classic conspiracy theory, except that there's little money in waste management currently. Landfills don't have high-paid lobbyists.

The sad truth is that recycling is still stuck as an afterthought in most industries, and shows little sign of changing. Because of that plants such as this will be delpoyed much more slowly than they could be, and it could be decades before one is ever opened in your state, let alone your town.

It's not a question of how well it works, it's a question of priorities and start-up costs. The start-up costs will remain high for some time, and unfortuntely recycling won't be a high priority as long as there are still places to bury things.

DAL

This is the future. We are in the first stages of technological discoveries that may keep our society running. The industrial revolution was only a short time ago. If businesses want to be around in the next 200 years or more they will invest in technology like this that will preserve the existance of the consumer. Clean water and clean air is already a huge concern in most countries.

Duane

This is technology being used now. PyroGenesis of Canada has one operational on Carnival Cruise and is in development for the US Navy. http://www.pyrogenesis.com/

kyle

nobody seems to want to think the next logical step for this behemeth. think big, really big. how about one in a almost dead landscape with a very large ampunt of rocks surrounding you. think of anything?how about the moon maybe even mars? once you start this thing up, all you need to do is keep putting shit that you cant use and it will be turned into stuff that you can use, like fuel and glass.

steve

As to the comment that landfill advocates don't have high-paid lobbyists: The quickest search of the lobbying database at opensecrets.org/lobbyists reveals that a single firm, Waste Management, Inc. has in fact spent millions of dollars in the last decade lobbying our government in the interest of traditional, environmentally disastrous waste removal practices. Please research before you post this kind of bulls**t.

dbargen

On startech's website, very few recent 'news' items are mentioned -- One notable one is that they receive grants... If the system produces electricity so well, and the fuel is free, why aren't they already fully self-supporting and in the business of destroying garbage to make money? Why do they need or even seek a grant?

Matt

I would just like to comment on the guy that said waste management groups don't have lobbyists:

This is a patently false statement. My ex father in law was VP of Landfill Operations for Fred Weber, Inc. Fred Weber, Inc. is a rock quarry and landfill operations company based in the St. Louis area. He has told me numerous stories about dealing with lobbyists, politicians, etc.

Additionally, for those of you asking why this company isn't more well-known:

It's because "good news" isn't the norm in the media right now. Several of these units area already operational, several more are on order, and a simple google search will show you published documents from all over the place where various entities are discussing purchasing the units.

chethana

sir i would like to have more information about this technology. it is really a wonder. i m interested in working for this technology.

Rob

For ANYONE wanting to learn more about this technology in an easy to understand and no-biassed context, refer to:

http://science.howstuffworks.com/plasma-converter.htm

T

It is my understanding that the plasma torch converters do not turn just anything into syngas. The input material (e.g., garbage) but be organic (sewage, animal waste, plastic, tires, etc.).

Putting in inorganic material (rocks, metals, etc.) will not generate any syngas.

Pete

yeah, well... read the investment board about Startech on www.ragingbull.com and you will see why they aren't successful.

The comments to this entry are closed.

spacer
Return to the Blog Index


January 2008
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31



Customer Service
Copyright © 2005 Popular Science
A Time4 Media Company All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Index