Currently, trash is breaking down in landfills across the globe, producing a steady stream of methane emissions that are contributing to Earth’s climate woes.
The company is called Sierra Energy, and its FastOx technology vaporizes trash — anything from electronics to medical waste — by placing it in a modified blast furnace and injecting pure oxygen and steam into the blaze.
By raising the temperature of the waste to 2,204 degrees Celsius (4,000 degrees Fahrenheit) — “twice the temperature at the core of a volcano,” CEO Mike Hart told Fast Company — the system forces the trash to break down into carbon monoxide and hydrogen.
“This doesn’t require external energy,” Hart said. “It’s just a chemical reaction of carbon [in the waste] and oxygen.”
All of the gas produced by the system is trapped so that it can then be transformed into valuable materials ranging from fuel to fertilizer. Meanwhile, any metals in the trash will have melted, priming them for reuse as well.
“It allows you to recycle the entire waste stream,” Hart told Fast Company — a capability that could prove invaluable as we attempt to dig ourselves out from under the global garbage crisis.
READ MORE: This startup just raised $33 million to vaporize trash [Fast Company]
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