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Plasma technology offers clean fuel breakthrough

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March 25, 2010

A GlidArc reactor, which uses plasma technology to create clean biofuels (Photo:

A GlidArc reactor, which uses plasma technology to create clean biofuels (Photo:

The same process that illuminates big-screen plasma TV’s can now create ultra-clean fuels, according to a scientific report presented earlier this week. According to Prof. Albin Czernichowski from France’s University of Orleans, a device called a GlidArc reactor has successfully been used to create clean fuels from waste materials, utilizing electrically-charged clouds of gas called “plasmas.” One of the fuels is a form of diesel that reportedly releases ten times less air pollution than conventional diesel.

The GlidArc process takes its name from a gliding arc of electricity, that produces a plasma within the reactor. The plasma allows chemical reactions to take place at much lower temperatures than would otherwise be required - one of these reactions is the gasification of locally-available waste, biomass or other substances. The resultant clean mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas can then be synthesized into biofuel.

The report suggests that the refrigerator-sized reactors could be fed materials such as post-harvest corn leaves and stocks, waste cooking oil from restaurants, or even the byproduct glycerol created in the production of other biofuels. The GlidArc-created biofuels could apparently be used in existing diesel, gasoline or kerosene engines, with no modifications.

“Low-tech and low cost are the guiding principles behind the GlidArc reactors,” stated Czernichowski. “Almost all the parts could be bought at your local hardware or home supply store. We use common ‘plumber’ piping and connections, for instance, and ordinary home insulation. Instead of sophisticated ceramics, we use the kind of heat-resistant concrete that might go into a home fireplace.” He added that an average person could build one in a few days, for about $US10,000.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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7 Comments

How can I get the plans?

pddickey
26th March, 2010 @ 07:00 am PDT

Hmmm, The fact that this is has no verifying quotes, "that reportedly releases ten times less air pollution than conventional diesel." means that it's all just fluff until some independent laboratory confirms these claims!

Ed
26th March, 2010 @ 02:26 pm PDT

Besides looking for independent confirmation of claims, I've lost count of the different ideas and techniques on new energy production that have hit the press over the last few years. It would be nice to see how many of these type ideas have come to fruition and are in full-swing, efficient production. I'm not as interested in the big picture comparison of how much energy they make as compared to ALL other forms of energy used. At this early point, it would be but a drop in the old bucket! What I would like to see is actual production volume as compared to the total energy used in the production process. It should include any energy produced that was then cycled back into the production side.There has got to be a name for this ratio idea but it escapes me. For instance, the ratio for producing hydrogen in quantity was for years way too far in the negative, taking more energy to make it than was produced!

Will, the tink
27th March, 2010 @ 01:48 am PDT

A further query is: what level of energy is required to manufacture the "clean" product? d;-)

Jetwax
27th March, 2010 @ 02:06 am PDT

"ten times less air pollution than conventional diesel"??? So if conventional diesel produces 1000 ppm of air pollution, ten times that would be 10,000ppm, so 10 times less would be 1000 - 10,000 or -9000ppm. These writers should take a 5th grade math class.

I think he means 1/10 the pollution of a conventional diesel, but that doesn't sound as impressive.

PizzaEater
29th March, 2010 @ 08:46 am PDT

need details and economics. How can I get it???

Raamis
30th March, 2010 @ 02:38 am PDT

The GlidArch Reactor article is interesting. However, clearly not implemented on commercial scale. Please note that in February, British Airways accepted a proposal from the Solena Group, Inc. to build in East London a biojet fuel plant that will produce 25 million gallons per year of biofuels, as well as 20mwh of renewable power net, which will be exported to the grid. This plant is energy self-sufficient. The biofuels plant uses a plasma gasification unit patented by Solena that will treat 1500 tons per day of refuse derived fuel from MSW producing a biosyngas that will be sent to a Fisher Tropsch unit, which will produce the biojet fuel. The biojet fuel when burned in a commercial jet engine will not produce SOX or particulate matter. The NOX levels are low and the CO2 produced is considered to be carbon neutral because the biojet fuel is produced from non-fossil fuel feedstock. Dramatic reductions in GHG will be achieved, energy security enhanced, and a cleaner environment will benefit the environment. For more information see Solena's web site: www.solenagroup.com.

D. Miller 5 April 2010

dfmiller
5th April, 2010 @ 07:12 pm PDT
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