Plasma rock, tiles and glass by Inge Sluijs
“Plasma Rock is a mixture of waste that was broken down to its atomics elements and then fused together. ”
The waste will be transported on a conveyer belt to the gasifier where the waste will be transformed from solid matter into gas at a temperature of 800 degrees. From here it goes into the pacifier, where it will be heated to 1500 degrees and blasted with Plasma. Plasma is an ionized gas that generates a magnetic field. This process can be compared with processes in nature, such as the sun, lightning and the northern lights. The plasma torch that’s inside the machine can reach a higher temperature than the surface of the sun. The intense heat causes gases inside the machine to be broken down in to atomic elements. Advanced Plasma Power tested the plant with different kinds of waste streams.Regardless of the waste put though the machine it will always output syngas, heat and plasma rock.
Plasma Rock is closely related to ‘a new geological period’ called Anthropocene that is characterized by the human influence and power on environment, climate and ecology
The slag left over by the plasma gasification process is called Plasma Rock. Plasma Rock is the waste of waste.
While the coastal historic landfill waste was toxic the Plasma Rock is virtually un-bleachable that means that any hazardous materials are inert and will not dissolve out of the material. The quality of this nearly undiscovered material is that it is mechanically strong, very dense and environmentally stable. During the cooling down process of the slag it becomes fully vitrified which gives the rock sharp edges. Some rocks look rough and contains little elements of undissolved metals caused by the cooling down process. Besides the aesthetic differences, the rocks have differences in the number of elements, this depends on the type of waste. The main elements in the rock are Silica, Lime and Alumina, other elements are Iron Oxide, Titania, Magnesia, Sodium Oxide, Potash and Phosphate. 100 kg of landfill waste will result in 20 kg of the Plasma Rock.
The low carbon ‘Tilbury Tiles’ that contribute to a circular economy are made from 100% Tilbury waste and are created in tilbury by a local tile company.For the manufacturing of the Tilbury Tiles the rocks should be broken down into little pieces and powder. Each tile consists out of +/- 200 gram Plasma Rock material so it needs 1 kg of landfill waste. The mixture of Plasma Rock that is needed to create the tiles dry’s within +/- 8 hours by air. They are extremely dense so don’t get damaged easily. The black gray tiles enable the material to show different textures and patterns. The flat and basic shape of the tile doesn’t distract the viewer from the materiality. Some are decorated with illustrations that tell the story of the landfill in an abstract way and contains ornaments created out of waste elements. These patterns are engraved in the Rock using a special stone craft technique. The tiles can be bought so every tile sold pays for the cleaning of the landfill soil. The tiles are branded with a logo that shows that it is made from 100% Tilbury landfill waste.
The power of the Plasma Rock has changed the way the local people view a coastal historic landfill. Previously nobody wanted to have the toxic waste in their back yard. Now this area is famous for its craft and materials. That’s why the local Tilbury community is celebrating this Anthropocene mine of raw materials.
The tiles are a souvenir that they use to express themselves to the outside world and tell their story about the rebirth of waste, based on a myth that I created around the Plasma Rock:
“One night there was a highly intense lightning storm going on above a landfill. The lightning went inside the ground. The next day an old man who lived close by, went to the landfill and to his surprise he found a black glassy rock. He gave this rock the name Mysterious Diamond. He believed that the first Plasma Rock is made by nature as a sign for humans to change the way we deal with waste and that their traces must be removed from the earth. This black mysterious unknown rock became a symbol of the transformation and rebirth of waste. People carried this magic material around and believed that it cleaned up the dirt of the past and it stimulates personal development. But above all it warns humans to stop polluting the Earth.”
Working together with the glassblower proved that the Plasma Rock isn’t toxic otherwise the glass would have changed colour. Mixing glass with crunched Plasma Rock required a different glass blowing technique. The material restricts the glass so it’s harder to blow and it shapes differently than normal, besides that we discovered different ways of mixing the Plasma Rock with glass what resulted in different textures. Normally with glass blowing you don’t mix it with another material.
Text and images via Inge Sluijs