Super-Hot Trash Zapper May Yield Hydrogen

This just in: The future is now. “Plasma torch technology” is gaining acceptance among corporations and governments, and may soon show up at a waste facility near you. Here’s how it works: Trash — anything from municipal garbage to toxic waste to PCBs — is zapped (at least we think that’s the technical term) with a plasma torch that burns three times hotter than the sun. The resulting products are obsidian-like stone, heavy metals that can be recovered for industrial use, and hydrogen-rich gases that can serve as fuel. One company has already developed a filter that will extract pure hydrogen from the gas, which means plasma torch technology (we love saying that) may one day play a role in the much-ballyhooed, possibly-just-around-the-corner “hydrogen economy.” The consensus among scientists, enviros, and sci-fi devotees is that the new technology is “rad.”