Sunday, September 10, 2006

Trash becoming a resource in Florida

Fort Pierce, Florida, is getting set to turn its garbage into an energy resource, according to an Associated Press report. St. Lucie County is working with Geoplasma on a plasma-arc gasification facility that could:
  • Eliminate 30+ years' worth of trash -- about 4.3 million tons -- and empty the county's entire landfill within 18 years
  • Sell 120 megawatts of electricity per day back to the grid
  • Provide 80,000 pounds of steam per day to power a nearby Tropicana Juice plant.

Sound too good to be non-controversial? You bet it is. Anti-waste activists at the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives question Geoplasma's claims that the plant will have lower emissions than a natural-gas plant of the same size.

Meanwhile, the, um, "pro-waste" National Solid Wastes Management Association "scoffs" -- that's the AP's word -- at the idea that plasma technology could obviate the need for a landfill. And so on.

But, this technology could find a warm welcome from anti-nuclear activists, who are promoting the notion that energy efficiency and renewables are far better solutions than nuclear power for mitigating global warming while still meeting electricity demand.

The AP story quotes a Georgia Tech prof who claims that a string of large plasma facilities around the country vaporizing trash could generate "electricity equivalent to about 25 nuclear power plants." Alas, he doesn't say how many plasma plants it would take to carry out this electro-prestidigitation.

(And, with Circuit City and Best Buy finally showing profits, will we have enough plasma left for TVs and waste-reduction/energy-production plants? America needs to know. Where is the Plasma Protection Society when we need them?)


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