I have read something about
Westinghhouse and other companies worked on the idea of a large-scale plasma torch to deal with toxic waste. They showed that with appropriate magentic fields the plasma can separate elments out where they can be recycled,–basically a centrifuge process. I don’t know the current status–if there is a commercial product or it was abandoned because of energy costs.
Perhaps the Helium beam could be be used as a plasma torch to cut the maglev tunnels being discussed in other threads.
A plasma cutting torch is not intended to weld and cannot weld due to the air supply/blast but plasma torches for welding are avalible and function and are used somewhat like a TIG welder. These torches do not use air for the plasma.
There are several companies currently working on commercial designs for recycling. Just google the name Startech into your google search. There is also a company over in Israel, too. But can’t remember the name of it.
The Startech method is not quite up to separation of individual atoms according to their elements, however. But it does produce synthesis gas (CO and H2) for making renewable fuels from trash and also an obsidian glass – like material that can be used for construction or making an asphalt road pavement with superior qualities.
In the future, the focus fusion powerplant may be able to create an unlimited amount of steel, aluminum, ultra – pure silicon and other resources from ordinary rocks, sand and dirt. Forests of trees could be saved if future houses and buildings are made from steel and aluminum instead of wood. Steel on the inside would give the dwellings structural strength. Aluminum on the outside would last virtually forever and not rust. The ultra – pure silicon could produce unlimited cheap photovoltaic solar panels as well as strong structural strength for construction also …… because silicon can be just as strong and sometimes stronger than steel. The leftover chemical element oxygen could be vented into the atmosphere.
And of course, when recycling any garbage that contains the two elements carbon and hydrogen : divert it into a separate catalytic chamber for renewable hydrocarbon production.
It has been a longstanding rule/law of economics in mining and extraction that small trace amounts of things not deemed economic to extract alone by themselves become more economic if extracted along with other things that are economic. Because the larger volume of valuable iron, aluminum and silicon could pay for it all …… you could in theory more economically extract even the smallest trace quantities of gold, silver, zinc, cobalt, copper, rubidium, irridium, tantalum, and etc. So that when it comes to scarce resources and valuable trace metals, you could have the entire planet to feast upon ! ! !
The thermonuclear plasma torch is not a new idea by any means. The idea was concieved way back during the 1950’s and 60’s. Their idea then was to use the doughnut – shaped tokamak. However, I would use a different approach. Instead of the magnetic tokamak serving a dual role of both fusion power and element separation, I would have a tokamak magnetic plasma containment device designed specifically for element separation only…… instead of it being the powerplant. Like a giant resource production garbage disposal made specifically for the task. The power supply to drive the whole thing would instead come from a focus fusion plant ( or several of them) connected externally up to the tokamak plasma reduction chamber. The FF would externally power the whole tokamak recycler.