Plasma process can halve carbon emissions

Photo: Hasse Andersson

Scanarc Plasma Technologies, a Swedish company, has a new method for the production of hot metal. The methodis called Ironarc and are based on plasma technology and produces about half as many emissions of carbon dioxide as the traditional blast furnace process.

“Here in Hofors, we develop cutting-edge technologies in high-temperature plasma. Plasma occurs when a gas is sufficiently heated. The electrons are separated from the nuclei,” says Maria Swartling, a researcher at Scanarc.

"As an example, we can recover the metals and energy from waste, such as dust from metallurgical processes,” says Swartling.

Environmental benefits from plasma generators

A plasma generator is a device that transfers electrical energy to a very hot gas. The gas is heated by an arc, and the plasma generator can use virtually any gas. In a plasma generator, 85 to 90 per cent of the electrical energy is transferred into heat energy and the plasma can be used for different types of reactions. One example is the melting and reduction of zinc oxide dust that is formed in steel manufacturing.

“Other examples of the environmental benefits of plasma technology is the destruction of ozone-depleting substances, the complete decomposition of organic materials in process gases, the recycling of metals in dust collected in dust filters, and the recovery of metals from ash generated during the incineration of waste,” explains Maria Swartling.

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