Plasma televisions are energy-sucking monsters — a 48-inch screen uses more power than a large refrigerator — which is why they have been largely replaced with LCD and LED screens. But the technology used to light up plasma TVs has a hidden application: creating clean fuel. Albin Czernichowski, a professor at the University of Orleans, France, just revealed a small, cheap device called a GlidArc reactor can use electrically-charged clouds of gas, or “plasmas”, to generate clean fuels from waste.
The refrigerator-sized reactor uses a gasification process to clean waste and biomass into CO2 and hydrogen gas that can be turned into biofuels. In practical terms, that means waste cooking oil from restaurants or corn leaves and stalks could be used as raw material for GlidArc-produced biofuels, which release significantly less CO2 than conventional fuels.
The best part: all the parts needed to make a GlidArc reactor can be found in a local hardware store. Czernichowski estimates that a reactor could be built in a few days for approximately $10,000. So the next time you hear someone complain about plasma TVs, tell them that some scientists are using the technology for good.