Florida county approves first United States plasma gasification facility
The St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved construction on a first-of-its-kind United States facility that will convert municipal solid waste (MSW) into usable energy.
The facility will be financed, owned, permitted and constructed by Atlanta-based Geoplasma LLC, and will be the first facility in the United States to use the plasma gasification process to eliminate municipal solid waste in a commercial, non-pilot setting. When complete, the facility will process 1,000 tons of MSW per day at the onset and progressing to 3,000 tons per day over time.
Municipal waste disposal is one of the most pressing environmental problems of the 21st century. According to the EPA, 245.7 million tons of MSW were generated in the U.S. in 2005. Population growth has consequently resulted in a significant increase in municipal wastes for disposal as well as a rise in energy demand.
Plasma gasification is a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution to reduce municipal waste. Developed by NASA more than 40 years ago to test heat shield materials on spacecraft, the process converts waste into a synthetic gas without combustion.
The technology has been identified by the EPA Environmental Technology Council as a way for municipalities to safely dispose of waste and create energy.
The construction costs for the initial phase is approximately $125 million. The project will be financed by taxable, non-taxable and industrial development revenue bonds and equity from Geoplasma. St. Lucie County residents will not pay for the technology or the facility. In fact, the project will contribute to the county economically by creating approximately 57 new skilled jobs, with an estimated $4 million per year payroll.
With the development contract now signed, the county and Geoplasma will work together on the land lease agreement.