HANK MORGAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY HANK MORGAN / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Plasma furnace. Mark II plasma furnace used to treat hazardous waste. The furnace contains two electrodes made of graphite. It uses one million watts of power as it passes an electric arc, like a lightning bolt, between them and through the waste. This arc heats the waste to 10,000 degrees celsius. At this temperature, hazardous chemicals are torn apart and reform as smaller, safer molecules. Volatile components are vaporised and removed whilst solids are trapped as the waste forms a glass-like substance. This vitrified substance can be disposed of safely or even used in construction. The plasma process can be used on incinerator ash, hospital waste or polluted soil.
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