Waste Disposal: Landfill Alternative
"Atomising trash eliminates the need to dump it, and generates useful power too"
Where does trash go? As far as we know, it goes from the garbage bin outside our house, to the garbage truck and then it goes.......where, the bay? Space? Underneath earth's crust? Ah, no. From the trucks it goes to various collection facilities and is then dumped in a landfill where it stubbornly sits for however many eons until it decomposes into toxic gas. Not only is the sheer volume of trash rapidly increasing, but the space required to meet this increase is decreasing. Growing populations = more trash and less space to dump it in.
San Franciscans know all too well the implications of building on top of a landfill (Hint: 1906 and 1989). So what can be done about this increasingly pressing issue? Hilburn Hillestad of Geoplasma, an Atlanta-based firm, might have the answer. http://www.economist.com/node/18061104?story_id=18061104 Essentially what they have been creating is a clean, advanced way of disposing of waste; they are zapping it with a plasma torch, or artificial lightning, and turning it into nothing. Vaporizing trash! So cool! Well, it doesn't exactly turn into nothing. The gas that is produced from this process is called syngas and it is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide which can then be used to generate electricity.
Although this process is still in the beginning stages and is still costly, it could prove to be a revolutionary invention and perhaps help to counter pollution. Until it becomes more publicly available, we'll just have to sit tight and cross our fingers that this will someday have a positive impact on the environment on both a global and local level.