Medical and pharmaceutical waste comes from hospitals, doctors/dentists offices, skilled & unskilled nursing care, group practices, specialized out-patient services and veterinarians. Examples of medical waste are: soiled or blood soaked bandages, culture dishes and other glassware, discarded surgical gloves, and instruments (e.g. scalpels), needles, cultures, stocks, swabs used to inoculate cultures, removed body organs and lancets used to draw blood samples.
For medical waste generators (medium and large hospitals/health clinics or medical waste collectors), the current trend is clearly in the direction of greater efficiency in sorting. The pressure for cost containment has grown in the health care industry and the price for medical waste treatment and disposal has increased. It has been estimated that hospitals and long-term care (LTC) facilities in the US waste generate at least 125 million pounds of pharmaceuticals annually. Our research reflects that medical waste treatment systems are expected to experience high growth due to a growing and aging population, a rising incidence of chronic disease, and new requirements for disposal in community and home settings.
PEAT’s PTDR plasma-arc plasma gasification system in Sacramento, CA is currently permitted for sanitized medical waste treatment, among other waste streams. The PTDR plasma-arc plasma gasification technology has received numerous regulatory approvals throughout the globe, including the California Department of Public Health, which certified the technology as an alternative to incineration for medical waste treatment.
Since October 2011, PEAT has been performing small medical waste treatment campaigns. Most recently in August, PEAT hosted potential clients from Utah to witness a medical waste treatment campaign on waste supplied from the San Jose area.
PEAT recently finalized the installation of a PTDR-100 Refinery Waste Treatment plasma gasification system for a client in China. This plasma-arc, plasma gasification system, is being sought to treat refinery sludge and petrochemical waste.
Here are some pictures of the plasma-arc system:
Plasma-Arc PTDR-100 Plasma Gasification Reactor
Side view of both skids on the PTDR-100 Plasma Gasification System
The refinery waste product contains primarily water, and smaller amounts of non-aqueous liquids and solids, both organic and inorganic, are by-products of the refining and petrochemical industries. For example, a typical industrial waste stream from an oil refinery operation will contain about 80 percent-by-weight water, about 15 percent-by-weight oil, e.g., hydrocarbons and other non-aqueous liquids, and about 5 percent-by-weight solids. Due to environmental regulations, this industrial waste stream poses significant disposal problems for the oil refineries.
The PTDR plasma-arc waste-to-energy system will convert via plasma gasification approximately 50 kilograms/hr (110 lbs) of this refinery waste into syngas estimated to be almost 600,000 BTU/hr (150,000 kCal/hr).
PEAT International designs advanced plasma-arc, plasma gasification systems. PEAT’s industrial waste treatment plants converts refinery waste into energy and other useful end products.
It has been estimated that hospitals and long-term care (LTC) facilities in the US waste at least 125 million pounds of pharmaceuticals annually – a staggering figure. Kevin Bain in third quarter edition of Medical Waste Management looked at the inventories of drugs maintained by coroner offices to assess the scope and magnitude of household pharmaceutical waste. Data from a pilot study conducted by the Clark County Coroner’s Office in Nevada illustrated a death rate of 0.008 (same as the US in 2005). The total number of cases accepted by the coroner’s office was 3,393; of those, 46.4% included drug inventories. 325,000 doses of wide array of drugs – not including liquids, powders or delivery systems (i.e. Patches or syringes) were collected representing greater than 102 kilograms of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Bain then extrapolated that data to the entire US deceased population, the coroner’s office estimated that almost 18 metric tons of APIs are disposed of just by coroner’s office alone.
How is all this pharmaceutical waste disposed of currently?
Flushing them down the toilet is the most common method used by coroners to dispose of Pharmaceutical Waste remaining in the household following a person’s death. The issue is that the wastewater treatment plants or domestic septic systems are not designed to remove pharmaceutical waste from the effluent – this results in small concentrations of pharmaceutical waste can end up in drinking water. The FDA recommends that most pharmaceutical waste be disposed of by basically mixing them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and putting them into sealable bag or empty coffee can and tossing them out in the trash.
Pharmaceutical waste is an ideal feedstock for a plasma-arc, plasma gasification waste to energy system in that it is typically low in moisture/water content and high in oxygen and carbon. This combination minimizes the energy and heat required from the plasma arc, plasma gasification heating system (i.e. plasma torches). When the required from the plasma torches is low in the PTDR plasma-arc system, generating waste to energy becomes much more favorable.
For example, in a recent PTDR-100 a plasma-arc, plasma gasification waste to energy system proposal advanced where the feedstock proposed is 90% pharmaceutical waste (balance was inorganic alkaline batteries), the heat required from the plasma arc system was minimized to where the estimated power consumption for the entire system was less than 50 kW. Assuming an efficiency of 17,000 BTU/kW-hr on the generation side, it was estimated that this PTDR-100 a plasma-arc, plasma gasification waste to energy system would generate over 60 kW of electricity.
Waste Treatment Plant
There are a number of perceptions within the marketplace regarding plasma-arc treatment and plasma-arc gasification processes. This stems from limited operating systems as well as “too-good-to-be-true” marketing claims made by some within the industry, some of these key points include:
o Ability to process a wider range of feedstocks that other thermal treatment technologies
o Smaller environmental and physical footprints
o Generate significant usable recyclable end-products and energy with no residual waste
Over the next few weeks, this blog will look to address each of these. With regards to the “Ability to process a wider range of feedstocks that other thermal treatment technologies”
As illustrated here , PEAT’s plasma-arc gasification waste-to-energy technology has been implemented treating a wide range of feedstocks. Further, the fact that the plasma-arc gasification heat source is independent of the waste being processed means that plasma-arc gasification systems can process waste with very low calorific values (i.e. high moisture and inorganics). Further, plasma-arc gasification systems can co-process a variety of waste streams simultaneously.
Following are the Peat’s Waste-To-Energy Systems / Waste Treatment Plants which has ability to process a wide range of feedstocks with Plasma Thermal Destruction Recovery (PTDR) Technology and convert waste streams into useful end-products (Syngas, Vitrified Glass, Concrete Aggregate, Road Bed/Fill, Sandblasting , and Recovered Metal Alloys).
Waste Treatment Plant
Waste Treatment Plant
Waste Treatment Plant
Last week, we discussed and demonstrated how plasma-arc gasification nearly eliminates air emissions when the syngas is not utilized, this entry looks to address wastewater and other residuals generated.
In addition to the liquids and residual generated from plasma-arc gasification processes, cooling the syngas with the plasma-arc gasification process may also results in the generation of liquids that require management.
These water streams are typically high in dissolved solids and gases with commonly-found ionic species (i.e. sulfide, fluoride, chloride, etc.).
With regards to by-products generated within the gas cleaning process (i.e. baghouse catches or solids removed recovered from the scrubber water), plasma-arc gasification processes have an advantage over some, but not all, other thermal processes because it is feasible to re-inject the by-products collected/generated by the air pollution control system into the plasma-arc gasification reactor as a co-feed with the input waste and vitrify it. In order to accomplish this, the waste feeding, the plasma-arc gasification reactor and the downstream air pollution control system must be sized and designed accordingly.
Whether or not these aforementioned by-products are recycled back into the plasma-arc gasification reactor, many plasma-arc gasification companies have marketed the technology as generating ‘zero waste.’ This is a slippery slope, as potential clients/environmentalists/regulators may view this statement as an exaggeration and ultimately become less interested in the technology. This is particularly unfortunate because many plasma-arc gasification process concepts do/will generate less secondary wastes than some competitive approaches and much of these residues are in a stable inert, non-hazardous form, which is an important advantage.
Whether or not a wastewater treatment system is required within the plasma-arc gasification process installation will largely depend on site-specific information and the discharge limits (total quantity and concentration of ionic species) to the local sewage system. For example, the PTDR waste-to-energy system located in California did not require a wastewater treatment system.