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University explores use of plasma with biomass

July 4, 2012, Merced, Calif. – A California university is working with a prototype of a "plasma gasification reactor," which can turn biomass waste into what they hope will be low-emission fuel.


July 4, 2012
By Merced Sun-Star

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Under a $258,000 grant from the California Energy Commission, university professors and students at UC Merced are hoping to perfect the process and turn the region’s agricultural waste into energy, according to an article in the Merced Sun-Star .

“We're particularly interested in biomass because of the abundance of it," said Gerardo Diaz, assistant professor at UC Merced School of Engineering. "The amount of agricultural waste that is produced in the Central Valley is substantial."

While the idea of plasma gasification has been around for a while, the technology has recently shown promise as potentially affordable for commercial and public use.

Under the grant, scientists at UC Merced are focused on determining just how inexpensively and cleanly that energy can be produced.

"We have been looking at the type of gas that's formed based on the type of biomass that we're putting in," Diaz said. "We're going to be looking at the emissions that come out of combusting that gas."


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