Monday, June 09, 2008

Trash To Energy Plant, Trashed

Santa Cruz's plans to build an innovative "trash to electricity" plant at the Buena Vista landfill that will obviate the need for another local landfill. Ironically, the plan is being met with intesnse skepticism from the environmental community which questions the claims being made by Adaptive/ARC, the company peddling the technology.

The facility would rely on plasma arc gasification technology to convert trash to electricity. As described in an article in the San Jose Mercury News, the technology works like this:

"Plasma-arc gasification, say its advocates, is not to be confused with traditional incineration and essentially vaporizes trash without harmful emissions.

The process applies heat in the form of electrified gas, or plasma, to waste, turning the organic materials into a synthetic fuel for electricity and the inorganic materials, such as metal, into an ash or slag residue that can be used in asphalt and concrete."

The environmental group Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice is calling the company's claimes embellised and suggests that there might be more harmful emissions involved in the process than the company lets on.

Trash to energy technology is unproven in this country but is being used successfully in Europe and other places.