By Mike McGarry
Your servant thanks councilman Bob Painter and retired councilman Steve Harris for digging in on the landfill issue. It seems Bob and his staff have done more research on the following items than C.R.R.A. even thought of, and Steve has every one on notice: we won’t put up with the status quo.
The following is a report prepared by Painter’s office which I present to you, dear readers:
A small Hartford group went to Bristol to learn about StarTech, a firm which has developed a technology which could reduce our landfill and trash to its atoms. The products are hydrogen, a gas fuel that can drive turbines, engines, or create electricity, and an inert and safe glass-like substance that can be formed into shapes for building, used in the abrasive industries, or for such things as road materials. I believe those of us who visited this plant all agree that this process deserves serious, deeper study. Some additional details and facts are:
• Hartford creates on the average 500 tons of ash, 200 tons of processed residue (both of these from the trash to energy plant), and 70 tons of bulky and non-processible waste PER DAY.
• The two landfills together comprise about 9,500,000 cubic yards of material (can you process that in your minds?!)
• Georgia Institute of Technology has done much research on this technology called Plasma Arc technology (www.geoplasma.com)
• The process can reach 30,000 degrees F, reduces the air to plasma (ionized gas like the sun) and breaks down the most dangerous materials to its individual atoms.
• Units can be built that process as little as 5 or as much as 50 tons per day. Westinghouse has one that can handle 150 tons/hour. Hartford would need several units to process its 770 tons per day
• If such a unit were to do only what CRRA does, it would cost somewhat more than what CRRA costs to do the job; the cost is brought down by harvesting and selling the hydrogen, fuel gas, and obsidian like clinkers
• There is no contamination of the atmosphere with plasma arc; it is self-contained. Cyanide, for example is broken down into hydrogen and carbon.
• On average, it reduces the volume of trash by 300 times to materials that are safe and commercially viable. It can eat the daily volume of trash coming to CRRA or eat our landfill
• There are a few functioning units in the world, none for many years. I communicated with Dr. Edgar Smith of the USArmy which is using the technology to destroy sensitive material and he put me in contact with those who are using it commercially for civilian activities.
• It is comparable to arc welding, ‘lightening in a bottle’, and has been around for decades, used in iron smelting, by NASA to test heat shields, but only recently for getting rid of trash.
• There are several other firms in this country who are in this business
• The systems are available for lease or purchase; one machine requires 3 persons per shift to operate, the system is stable, the cost of running is low, the unit can run 24 hours a day without stopping.
Let’s change the world. Turn useless trash into non-polluting energy while reclaiming valuable land. The time is now, Hartford is the place.
This column was first published on May 19, 2004 and is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Hartford News.