Plasma-Arc Gasification and Dioxins

Waste To Energy, Waste Treatment Add comments

Dioxins are an issue often cited in the marketing literature of many plasma gasification waste-to-energy technology suppliers as an area where plasma gasification may be superior to other thermal waste processing options. Studies have shown the majority of dioxins are formed within the cooler regions of processes via flyash catalyzed processes, involving chlorine and organic compounds (usually called products of incomplete combustion) in so called de-novo synthesis reactions.

It has been demonstrated (see below table) that the higher temperatures from PEAT’s plasma thermal destruction and recovery waste-to-energy process provides for substantial conversion of the organic constituents of the waste and therefore significantly reduces the likelihood of downstream dioxin formation. (There is some credence in the claims that the reducing conditions present in plasma gasification processes could minimize dioxins as the precursor formation reactions usually require excess oxygen).

Dioxins form when all of the following constituents present: carbon, hydrogen, chlorine, and oxygen in appropriate quantities. Once all these elements are present in sufficient quantities, the temperature must also be high enough to promote the formation of such a complex compound, and not so high that the molecules formed become unstable. This temperature zone has been widely estimated to be between 200°C and 450°C. However temperature is not the only mitigating factor as there could be dioxin precursors in the off-sygas/pre-cleaned syngas leaving the plasma gasification reactor thus PEAT’s plasma thermal destruction and recovery waste-to-energy systems provide for rapid quenching of the gas (i.e Venturi quench). This is to avoid the de-novo synthesis temperature window.


System Data on Dioxin Emissions Normalized data for comparison
Units I-TEQ
PEAT International
testing on agricultural blast media
mg/dscm 2.79 x 10-8 0.026
PEAT International
testing on incinerator fly ash in
Tainan, Taiwan
Ng-TEQ/nm3 0.048 0.048
PEAT International
testing on biomedical waste in
Gujarat, India
Ng-TEQ/nm3 0.0244 0.041
USEPA HWC MACT Ng/dscm 0.2 0.19-0.44
EU WID Ng/nm3 0.1 0.1


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