‘Black hole’ seen as solution to garbage woes | Inquirer News

‘Black hole’ seen as solution to garbage woes

/ 10:05 PM November 06, 2011

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet—A black hole in astrophysics is something where even light and gravity cannot escape. Stars are gobbled up by a black hole with nary a trace.

A two-story structure in Barangay (village) Alno here is not the black hole people would encounter in sci-fi movies, but if it delivers what it promises, it could be a revolutionary way to end this town’s garbage woes.

Mayor Gregorio Abalos Jr. said the technology, known as super plasma decomposition, uses low -temperature plasma (ionized gas) to convert any trash into ceramic ash to almost nothing.


“We were surprised. The ash produced was minimal. The big bonus was that it produces wood vinegar,” Abalos said.


Wood vinegar, or pyroligneous acid, is the dark liquid produced through wood carbonization or when wood is heated in an airless container. Wood vinegar is used to hasten decomposition in compost heaps and to fight bacteria and kill worms.

But the biggest bonus for the black hole technology is that it requires no fuel and uses two special magnets to generate plasma to heat and destroy garbage, said its developers and local officials.

The Japanese developers of the P58-million “Super Black Hole” machine demonstrated its capability on Thursday and Friday.

The machine on Thursday converted four tons of residual garbage at the contained dump of La Trinidad into ceramic ash in two hours. A backhoe was used to feed garbage into the machine but Abalos said they would be using a conveyor belt later.

It processed another five tons of garbage on Friday.

Abalos said the machine would be operating continuously for the next six months. “It would only be stopped after six months for cleaning,” he said.


As it turned out, the machine had been going on continuously with nary power. Abalos said it only used electricity on November 3 when Japanese engineers welded and used electric screws to fasten the machine. After that, they took off the wires and the machine started operating.

Akio Shigeta, the machine’s inventor, said organic wastes such as fabric, rubber, kitchen wastes, animal wastes, plastic, wood and paper can be turned into wood vinegar.

Shigeta said the technology aims to give this Benguet capital, a major vegetable producing and trading town, a zero-waste management system.

“We have seen other proposals but this one is the most intriguing. I thought we were being fooled. This machine does not differentiate between biodegradable and residual materials,” Abalos said.

He said the machine could also process electronic wastes like computer parts and mobile phones and hazardous materials containing mercury, he said. But the machine, he added, could not process metal, stone, battery, glass, ceramic and concrete.

The dump in Barangay Alno was opened in January to accommodate the more than 40 tons of garbage generated in the town daily. But Abalos said this volume of garbage could be reduced with the use of the black hole technology.

He said the Cooperative Bank of Benguet gave the local government a P24-million financial assistance that it used as initial payment for the machine.

Abalos said La Trinidad is applying for a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines to cover the machine’s full payment.

Wisdom Amahah, a representative of the Philippine NGO Support System, the Japan-based group behind the technology, said this is the first commercial prototype for the technology not only in the Philippines but in the world.

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“If results are favorable, we would be establishing our group here and produce this technology commercially,” Amahah said.—Desiree Caluza and Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

TAGS: Garbage, invention, Japan, Philippines, Regions

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