Answers to Some Common Questions
Q. Isn’t this just another form of gasification or incineration?
A. No. Incineration is burning. Gasification technologies may include forms of incineration, typically known as a two-staged process, where the pyrolysis occurs in the first stage and contaminated gases are incinerated in step two. There is no burning or pyrolysis in the Elementa process because we use water or steam as the means of clean energy conversion. At no time is combustion applied to the input material. Steam Reformation consists of re-arranging carbon and hydrogen atoms into energy-useful gaseous configurations with the use of steam at high temperatures. The resultant effect is the generation of very clean gas that contains trace amounts of easily removed impurities.
Q. Hasn’t this sort of thing been around for a long time?
A. Yes and no. Steam Reformation itself is a very mature technology, but the application used by
Q. Does Elementa detract from other waste reduction efforts?
A. No. Elementa could convert almost the entire municipal waste stream into clean energy, eliminating the need for source-separation containers, energy-intensive collection activities, and so on. However, if a municipality is committed to recycling items like cans, plastic containers, newspapers and cardboard, the remaining low-value waste stream – which contains wet organic material, papers and certain plastics – is still more than enough to sustain the Elementa process. We complement other waste diversion programs, not compete with them.
Q. Does the system cause air pollution?
A. No. The Elementa Process takes place in an oxygen-starved environment that avoids the creation of undesirable oxygen compounds like carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, sulphur oxides, dioxins and furans that are common to a combustion process. It also incorporates a number of commercially-proven cleaning technologies to remove any impurities that may be included in the syngas, so the final air output comfortably exceeds the toughest environmental standards.
Q. If this is so good, why hasn’t it been done before?
A. Steam reformation itself is not a new technology, but the state-of-the-art Elementa process, which uses more robust components supported by a proprietary computer control system to allow for optimum process management and the use of higher temperatures alloys for kiln operations represents a significant leap in performance over other systems. In addition, there are two specific incentives that were not present even as recently as five years ago. The first incentive is the need to find environmentally friendly waste conversion systems. The second is the need for alternate energy sources given the high prices of oil and gas. Neither of these considerations had the urgency that they clearly have today. The single most important issue facing us today is the protection of our environment, namely the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Q. Do the facilities produce odors or excessive noise?
A. No. There is some minor industrial noise, e.g., loaders, etc. that is monitored and designed to meet labor standards, but nothing unusual for an industrial application. Municipal solid waste will be processed in enclosed buildings with state-of-the-art odor control systems and noise limiting features will prevent such pollution, both to the community and for the health and safety of plant personal.
Q. What do you do with all of the stuff that’s left over from the process?
A. Ninety-eight percent of the volume of municipal solid waste steam-reforms into usable syngas. The remaining two per cent is made up of metals, which are separated and recycled, and a very small volume of inert (non-toxic) solids like glass and clay which are suitable for incorporation in construction aggregates and products (e.g., cement or asphalt manufacturing).