Thermal Gasification is the chemical conversion of organic solids and liquids into a synthetic gas under very controlled conditions of heat and availability of oxygen. Thermal Gasification disassociates the molecules of complex substance into simple gases. Thermal Gasification is very efficient at breaking down hazardous organic substances such as dioxins and furons. Gasification employs a controlled thermal, chemical conversion process. It is a well established technology that has been used in a wide variety of applications. Applying Thermal Gasification to Municipal Solid Waste is a relatively new development, but an emerging application of this technology. Many states are now recognizing thermal waste gasification as a renewable resource.
Without an understanding of the differences between Thermal Waste Gasification and simple burning, the general public may confuse gasification with Incineration. Both technologies process waste with heat, but the similarities end there. Most informed sources today recognize thermal waste gasification as a renewable resource and distinct from Incineration. It is not combustion. The synthetic gas formed by gasification is composed primarily of H2 and CO. Incineration on the other hand, is the combustion of waste in an oxygen-rich environment. Combustion produces CO2 and water vapor as by-products. Due to the plentiful amount of oxygen, numerous complex oxides are inevitably formed during combustion and some of these are hazardous materials. In many important respects thermal gasification and incineration are opposite processes. Thermal Gasification disassociates water into hydrogen and oxygen. Incineration combines hydrogen and oxygen to form water vapor. Most importantly, Incineration can create complex substances, including hazardous substances, while Thermal Gasification disassociates the molecules of complex substances into simple gases. Thermal Gasification is very efficient at breaking down hazardous organic substances.