Way back in the summer, I visited thePlasco Plant in Ottawa.The project demonstrated a Plasma Gasification process that converts 75 tonnes a day of municipal solid waste into synthetic gas, inert solid material (pellets) and heat. The gas is utilized in a steam power plant to produce electricity for sale into the electricity grid.
It didn’t smell, except when the door to receiving waste was open. It doesn’t make much noise, it was gearing up to run when I saw it. But should be in an industrial area. It is totally computerized and automated with few workers on the site.
We have a looming problem arising in the next generation. The landfill will be full in approximately 35 years, even with recycling and green bin. There is also a problem with biosolids (dried out and sterilized poop cakes, basically) an amount of which is presently sprayed on farmers’ fields or landfilled. Over time, pressure will come to not send this manure to fields and growth of population means growth of human waste (why we are building and renovating our sewage plants)
So the committee I am on that was basically set up to look into compost solutions has asked staff to also look into alternatives. Councillor Wideman is very keen on “bioenergy” plants. I said,”You mean incinerators, don’t you.” After some huffing and puffing, the point was conceded.
That being said, we still have a problem. So when the opportunity came up to visit the Plasco plant as part of the AMO conference, I jumped at the chance.
The demonstration plant does have some problems with break down and not running, staff says, but the concept is sound and the emmisions very low. The big plus is the municipality doesn’t have to spend the hundreds of millions to build it, the company makes profit from the electricity revenue — also an alternative to coal or natural gas electric plants or nuclear.
The company is starting two commercial plants in Montpellier and Los Angeles so Waterloo Region has plenty of time to see the results.
You can find out all about the plant here: