Plasma arc waste destruction system

Award Year 

For almost a decade, researchers at theCarderock Division, Naval Surface WarfareCenter have been investigating plasma arctechnology as a method to destroy shipboardcombustible solid waste. Dr. Eugene Noltingand Jon Cofield developed the Plasma ArcWasteDestructionSystem(PAWDS),which offers asmall size, rapidand efficientoperation, andthe ability toincinerate a widevariety ofgarbage.Forming anelectric arc in agas—a process that generates temperatureshotter than the sun’s surface—creates theplasma used in the system. This allowsoperation at such an (more) extremely hightemperature that combusting materials releasesvery few pollutants to the environment.The team was able to move this patentedtechnology forward through both aCooperative Research and DevelopmentAgreement (CRADA) and a licensingagreement with PyroGenesis, Inc., a privatelyowned company that develops andcommercializes customized thermal plasmatechnologies. PyroGenesis plans to manufacture and install PAWDS oncommercial cruise liners.The primary beneficiary of PAWDS is thecruise industry, which is subject to stringentpollution controlregulations.International lawprohibits shipsfromindiscriminatelydumping trash atsea, so much ofthe waste must beburned inconventionalincinerators orstored for laterremoval. Because the incinerators cannot burnplastic, the garbage is spread out on a table andhand sorted. PAWDS eliminates the need tohand sort garbage and store contaminatedplastic. Not only are labor costs lowered by theuse of PAWDS, but its smaller size results inadditional room, which often is used as cabinspace by paying customers. Because shipshave limited space, this benefit is veryimportant. In addition, the technologyproduces a waste gas stream that is so clean itcan be operated during the daytime withoutimpacting passengers’ quality of life. (less)