Research Projects Involving Plasma
Magmavication of Geomaterials
General: High-temperature melting of soils can be accomplished using nontransferred arc plasma technology that produces an artificial lightning at 4000° to 7000°C. Liquids, gases, and organics are lost as gases through pyrolysis into primordial elements (H, He, N, O, etc).
The resulting magma cools to form an igneous rock material. Thus, it is possible to
melt soft clay or loose sand, with the final mass resembling black glassy obsidian, or
white crystalline granite, depending upon the original mineralogy and rate of cooling. Of
particular interest, plasma is a versatile and thorough means of in-situ remediation of
buried wastes and contaminated ground since the same technique can be applied regardless
of the types of contaminants and pollutants. Startup projects initially funded by the
National Science Foundation (STTR), Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Army, and
Westinghouse/Savannah River Corporation. The GT plasma research is conducted by an
partnership between the Construction Research Center (Dr. Lou Circeo), GTRI-Environmental
(Bob Newsom), and Civil &Environmental Engineering (Dr. Paul Mayne). A 100-kW plasma
system is on loan from the Georgia Power Company and a 240-kW system was made available by
funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
January 27, 1998