Plasma is considered the “fourth state of matter” following solids, liquids, and gases. Plasmas are the most common phase of matter in the universe, both by mass and volume. Plasmas exist both in the natural world and are artificially produced. Lightning is the most common form of terrestrial plasma. In space, the sun and other stars are all plasmas. Artificial plasmas include those found in: plasma displays (including televisions), fluorescent lamps, neon signs, electric arc lamps, and plasma torches.
Plasma arc technology was developed over 50 years ago by NASA for the US space program to simulate re-entry temperatures on heat shield materials. Only recently has this technology begun to emerge as a commercial tool in several industries such as steelmaking, metallurgy, precious metal recovery, and waste disposal. The plasma temperatures are over 7,000 degrees centigrade, which is three times hotter than fossil fuels and even hotter than the surface of the sun. This super hot plasma flame is sufficient to readily melt or gasify virtually all earthly materials. This would result in the breakdown of all organic, hazardous and toxic compounds into their basic elements.
Plasma applications of primary interest to APAT include:
• Waste to Energy Applications
• Plasma Collocation with Fossil-Fuel Fired Power Plants
• In Situ Applications for gasification and energy recovery of landfills and subterranean carbonaceous fossil fuel deposits (coal, tar sands, oil/gas shale, abandoned oil wells).
• In Situ Plasma Vitrification (ISPV) for stabilization of weak foundation soils/rocks and unstable slopes/landslides.