Agreement reached on waste-to-energy plant - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Agreement reached on waste-to-energy plant


The city of Marion's trash will soon be an energy company's treasure.

"After the flood of 2008, Alliant wasn't able to rebuild a power plant that provided steam to a large number of industrial customers, so there was an opportunity for something else to come into the market,' said Lon Pluckhahn, Marion's city manager.

That something else, a plant that takes every-day garbage in, and produces energy out. Tuesday morning Florida-based Plasma Power, LLC agreed to bringing this first-of-its-kind plant in the U.S. to Linn County.

"Plasma arc technology has been around for awhile, said Pluckhahn.  "The question has always been is it commercially viable."

Plasma Power believes the answer to this question is yes. Instead of being buried in a landfill, trash taken from Marion homes and businesses will go to a new plant. That solid waste is put through extremely hot temperatures and broken down at the molecular level. The process produces a synthesis gas which can be collected and used similar to natural gas.

"You're taking things that would have otherwise been discarded in a hole in the ground and actually recovering it and turning it into something that's usable, energy," Pluckhahn said. 

The Solid Waste Agency, which runs the landfill in Linn County and receives no tax dollars, will see decreased revenue from the trash that doesn't make it into the landfill. Still the agency is doing its part to keep things out of the landfill, now providing services like shingle recycling.

"The Solid Waste Agency supports alternative technologies, and we look forward to seeing the agreement between the city of Marion and Plasma Power," said Joe Horaney, spokesperson for Solid Waste Agency.

It is an agreement that may change the way people in Linn County view trash. Under the agreement, the city of Marion is obligated to provide 150 tons of garbage a day.

Plasma Power will begin detailed engineering of the plant which will include a site analysis. The company hopes to be operational by year's end. 


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