Plasma Gasification of Sanitation Biomass

In contrast to our luxurious western situation, lack of sanitation hospitalizes millions around the globe. As a part of their Global Developments program, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have challenged researchers worldwide to develop a toilet facility for the third world that does not require an external source of energy nor the use of water, while still providing affordable sanitation.

The TU Delft bid is to gasify the biomass using microwave generated plasma. By applying energy in this form, lower residence times are required and heat losses can be compensated for, so that processing facilities can be scaled down considerably enabling household application. In order to create a self-sustained process, the produced syngas is fed to a solid oxide fuel cell to recover the energy expended for microwave field generation. Batch experimentation has indicated the feasibility of self-sustained processing.

To further develop the process, a continuous flow plasma gasification setup is built as part of an integrated demonstration miniplant. The graduation project we have available involves experimental studies with this setup to:

  • Perform a parametric study on the process to evaluate several types of feedstock – powdered wood, sewage sludge, charcoal – in various particle sizes and moisture contents.
  • Identify the boundaries of the operating envelope of the plasma process and to determine its optimum operating point.
  • Investigate the kinetics of the gasification process.
  • Test high durability materials for application in a thermal plasma environment.
  • Determine process bottlenecks and find design parameters that enable further process improvement.


Interested? For more

information please contact:

Guido Sturm



Involved People:

Facilities used: