WV Plasma Plants Would Turn Coal to Chemicals, Garbage to Fuel
The State Journal
8 May 2012
By Pam Kasey
Even as one energy provider shuts down in Marion County, another
is looking to start up.
FirstEnergy plans to close its Rivesville Power Station by Sept.
1, a loss of about nine jobs to the county.
But if it has its way, Allied Geo-Plasma Energy, one in a group of
companies called Allied Energy Services Group, will use that
Rivesville facility to make chemicals and will start another in
Fairmont to make diesel fuel, and will employ 120 between the two.
"I have had eight people contact me because we were on the TV news
there the other day," said Allied Energy CEO Paul Muncy. "One guy
was a munitions expert in Afghanistan, and he wants to come home
to a job. I have a passion for this, by God, and we're going to do
Allied Geo-Plasma has entered into a license agreement with
Plasma Arc Technologies of Miami, Fla., according to its website.
It would use the plasma arc technology to turn carbon-based
materials into synthetic gas, or syngas, as a raw material for a
broad range of products.
"The plasma torch operates at 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the
torch tip," Muncy said of the technology. "It heats the feedstock
hotter than the surface of the sun and it creates plasma as the
fourth state of matter — solids, liquids, gas, plasma. That
changes it to syngas."
According to a white paper Muncy wrote and posted online, plasma
arc technology can make use of low-value carbon-based feedstocks.
That includes unwashed run-of-mine coal, which means eliminating
coal washing and the associated refuse that later has to be
cleaned up. It can also use low-energy-content coal, high-sulfur
and high-moisture coal, coal waste, automotive tires, biomass and
municipal solid waste.
It breaks the hydrocarbons into a syngas of carbon and hydrogen
molecules, which become building blocks. "There are 44,000
products that can be made from coal, including saccharine,
wintergreen (oil), explosives, paints, dyes and roofing tar,"
The process turns any heavy metals and other inorganic materials
contained in the feedstock into a variety of construction
materials, including insulation, man-made obsidian, ceramic tile
And once the plasma torch gets a jump start from outside
electricity, it can run on electricity produced as part of the
process, with extra to sell back onto the grid.
"So my argument is, don't burn coal in a power plant, which is
creating so many problems for the coal industry," Muncy said.
"Gasify it, extract the heat, make steam that turns the turbine
generators, and recombine the gases to make synthetic diesel fuel.
Using plasma arc technology, it's all a clean process, so it does
not negatively affect the mining industry."
Muncy hopes to turn the old Rivesville Power Station to a
syngas chemical plant.
"We would use low-grade coal," Muncy said. "There is a Washington
seam and a Waynesburg seam that are close to the surface in this
area, and there's 100 years of coal that we know about."
And he wants to do a different conversion at property the company
owns at the mouth of the West Fork River in Fairmont.
"In a developed country, we produce 4.5 pounds of trash per person
every day that we live," Muncy said. "We produce 1,500 pounds of
municipal solid waste per day in this wasteshed. My intention on
that plant is to gasify municipal solid waste and turn that into
The site has navigation access to the Monongahela River and could
ship chemical products anywhere in the world, Muncy said, and he
has offtake agreements already in place.
These would be Allied's first plasma gasification plants. As an
example of a plant in operation, Muncy mentioned Coskata, a
subcommercial-scale plant northwest of Pittsburgh that has been
making ethanol from biomass and trash for more than two years. He
also said there is a full-scale plasma gasification plant running
in Japan and several others planned in the U.S.
A McDowell County native, Muncy would like to bring the technology
to West Virginia.
From groundbreaking, Muncy said, each plant would take two
years to build. Each would cost nearly $400 million, and he is not
seeking government help. Each would create about 60 direct jobs
and 300 additional jobs for truck drivers, barge hands and other
supporting activities. The facilities would pay union-scale wages.
Although Muncy said he has financing and off-take lined up and
asserts that the clean process is easy to permit, he faces
He declined to detail the status of acquisition or other
arrangement for use of FirstEnergy's Rivesville power plant.
But he acknowledged that the Fairmont site he owns is zoned
commercial, not industrial.
Fairmont City Planner Kathy Wyrosdick said she referred him to the
Marion Regional Development Corp. "I'm trying to encourage him to
look at other sites that aren't surrounded by homes," Wyrosdick
MRDC Executive Director Sharon Shaffer said she is meeting with
Muncy in person on May 10.
"We want to get a greater understanding of his operation, to know
whether that's a fit for the sites he's proposed to consider,"
Muncy expressed optimism.
He said he would donate a $2 million plasma torch to a program at
West Virginia University or Fairmont State University that would
train engineers and technicians.
"Because this is up and coming. It's here. It's now," he said.
"Let's do business in West Virginia."