The main aspect of gasification, whether it is plasma-arc plasma gasification or “traditional” gasification is to raise carbon–rich materials or waste to a high temperature in an oxygen–deficient reactor, where the materials break down thermochemically versus combustion.
This process is more efficient than incineration, has a significantly lower environmental footprint, while the syngas can be transformed into a number of end products (liquid fuels, power, chemicals, etc.).
The feedstocks for traditional gasification processes range from coal, the organic components of municipal waste and biomass while the range is even greater for plasma-arc plasma gasification processes, which can handle just about any waste stream with the exception of radioactive materials.
Due to the fact that gasification occurs pre-combustion (assuming the syngas would be burned to generate electricity), it supports easier carbon capture than incineration where the chemistry can be more complex.
Plasma-arc plasma gasification is just one type of gasification. Other common forms include (1) updraft, (2) downdraft, (3) fixed bed and (4) fluidized bed. The first two are quick similar with exception of the gas flow. More on the differences in the next posting.