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The Global Energy Prize annually honors outstanding achievements in energy research and technology from around the world that are helping address the world’s various and pressing energy challenges.

Plazma technologies can solve garbage crisis

The problem of recycling and disposal of household waste is a pressing issue in Russia. According to Rosprirodnadzor, the volume of household waste in Russia is 70 million of tons. At the same time, only 5–7% is processed, the rest is either burned or buried in landfills. In the nearest future the burning of waste will be recognized as recycling, the relevant amendments to the current legislation are being prepared already for submission to the State Duma.At the same time, the ecological side of such measures is dangerous, traditional landfill operations lead to unsuitability of land areas and groundwater contamination. The result of burning solid waste is pollution of the atmosphere with toxic components, which poses a direct threat to the environment and human health. Philipp Rutberg, RAS academician, the 2011 Global Energy Prize laureate developed technologies for the disposal and use of waste without harmful emissions into the atmosphere.

Phillip Rutberg suggested to solve the garbage problem with a low-temperature plasmatron. Regular waste burning in furnaces with temperature levels of 800-1000 C leads to emissions of furans, cyanides and dioxins into the atmosphere. Waste-to-energy facilities using plasma technologies may generate synthesis gas with maximal output and without harmful contaminants thanks to the high temperatures involved. The technology is based on the process of the irreversible chemical transformation of waste under high temperatures with no oxygen. In a plasmatron, the temperature goes up to 1500 C. In terms of energy content, it is lower than natural gas, but the hydrogen and СО content is optimal for a wide range of applications: in a gas turbine for electric power generation (a kilo of waste is enough to generate from 1 to 5 kW/h), in diesel generators, or in boilers to obtain superheated steam. Professor Rutberg has stated:‘The leading character in this technology is ionized gas, plasma, the temperature of which can vary from 2 thousand to 6 thousand degrees, depending on the problem being solved. It is fundamentally important that such reactor has no combustion, garbage is not burned, but it is gasified. Since there is neither combustion nor oxygen and garbage is not burned, there are no conditions for the formation of dioxins, furans, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide and other harmful substances at this temperature.’


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