The project

The Innovation Sustainable Hub (Polo Innovazione Sostenibile) is considered as a technology platform for research and innovation for the development of SOFC systems operating with syngas from waste and integrated with the Gasplasma® process.

The project involves the treatment of 60,000 tons/year of non-hazardous waste. This is a limited portion of the industrial waste generated in Trentino that will be processed in the system to produce energy.

Specifically, the waste material fed to the plant will be treated so as to:

  • retrieve recyclable metals and plastics (5% of the initial volume of waste);
  • transform the inorganic fraction of the waste into vitrified material in the form of flakes of basalt rock suitable to use in construction (about 15% of the initial volume of waste);
  • transform the organic fraction of waste into syngas – clean synthetic gas suitable for generation of electricity (80% of the initial volume of waste): 
    • Either by gas engines in CHP process (first stage)
    • Or through very high efficiency fuel cells (second stage)

On an annual basis the plant will generate the following estimated quantities of energy and heat:

  • 63 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy – this is the consumption of 17,000 people. SOFCsyngas is available to provide this energy at a reduced price to other companies operating in the area of ​​Casotte. Alternatively it will be exported to the grid.
  • 10 megawatts of thermal energy – this is the energy generated by the boilers of 100 condos / public buildings. This heat can be used in agricultural facilities (greenhouses), nearby public buildings, warehouses and businesses in the area, largely affordable.


The Polo Sustainable Innovation is based on a technological solution Made in Trentino. It is a best practice internationally patented by Advanced Plasma Power LLC, which combines a fluid bed gasifier and a Plasma converter:

  • It differs from incinerators because it it does not involve combustion of waste;
  • It differs from older gasifiers because you can get a purified synthetic gas without large amounts of TARs.

The core of the innovative design lies in the combination of the technology developed in Trentino by SOLIDpower and the Gasplasma® system that transforms the waste into inert material (Plasmarok), usable for construction purposes, and into clean gaseous fuel, Syngas.

The latter is so purified that it can be converted into other forms of energy through the most advanced generation systems:

  • fuel cells;
  • catalytic processes for the synthesis of liquid fuels.

Process diagram


Permitting process

The implementation of the Polo Sustainable Innovation is undergoing a rigorous process of analysis by the local authorities for compliance with the most stringent regulations.

In particular, the proposal is subject to the procedure of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) governed by the Autonomous Province of Trento to ensure accurate reporting from the public point of view, and environmental monitoring.

To demonstrate the will to fulfill to the fullest extent possible the needs for better understanding throughout the territory, SOFCsyngas decided to anticipate at this stage of the SEA many of the studies characteristic of the subsequent EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment).

For this reason, the SEA procedure is effectively suspended and will not come to the final opinion until such studies have been carried out, presented and evaluated.

Again in order to enable an informed decision on the initiative, SOFCsyngas has initiated a process of discussion and dialogue with the local community, through gatherings, public meetings and online communication platforms.

Questions & Answers

No, the system converts the treated waste into a “gaseous synthesis fuel” also called Syngas that consists mainly of CO and H2. This transformation takes place in a sealed environment and without emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, the inorganic component of the treated waste is transformed into a rock certified as inert material and therefore reusable for construction purposes. The Syngas has characteristics equivalent to those of the natural gas and so it can be used in co-generation systems, or further processed into liquid fuels such as bio-diesel or bio-ethanol (the percentage of bio fuel depends on the percentage of biogenic material contained in the treated waste).
No. The system is intended to treat only non-hazardous and industrial waste. Currently in Trentino there are about 240,000 tons of commercial and industrial waste that is generated by industrial activities, crafts, agriculture etc., which can be treated in the plant; all is virtually non-recyclable waste that is disposed mainly outside the province, increasing costs for companies and creating traffic problems and significant pollution because of its transportation.
What kind of waste are we talking about? Biomass waste such as the stumps of vines and apple trees, non-metallic materials from dismantling of vehicles, sludge from paper mills and water treatment plants, civil and industrial greenhouse roofs, biomass and painted plastic or scrap from demolition etc., all not-hazardous materials according to the law, with adequate calorific value and quantity. No matter how good we are in recycling in our homes or industrial activities, these can never be reduced significantly in a short time.
No, not significantly; the size of the plant is relatively small (60,000 tons per year as compared with more than 240,000 tons available) for two reasons: the first is to take account of a possible and positive future reduction of the waste products of this kind in Trentino; the second reason is to limit to no more than 25, the number of trucks that will daily circulate to the installation for the input and output; Moreover, almost all trucks will arrive at Casotte directly from the Rovereto South A22 exit, thanks to the existing link road built by the Province for the site of Casotte, without affecting the local road network.
The site to place such a system must satisfy certain requirements: not be deep down in the valley and have a convenient and ample road access, be flat and about the size of two hectares, available now, far enough away from population centers and homes, already planned for industrial activities and be in an area where there was the availability of qualified personnel; twenty possible sites across the Trentino were examined and analyzed, but none fit all these features so well as the site of Casotte in Mori.
The waste will be selected (marketable plastics and metals will be extracted and sent for recycling) while the rest will be shredded and dried and then sent into a kind of silos called “gasifiers“, which partially oxidize, turning it into a gaseous substance; this substance, rather than ending up in a boiler and then in a fireplace (what happens in incinerators), will instead be processed at very high temperature in another sealed container called “Plasma Converter” where the gas molecules are decomposed at high temperatures (a few thousand degrees) and reduced to elementary molecules; at this point the “organic” fraction of the waste will become a very pure fuel gas (syngas) to feed into the “fuel cell” to generate electricity and heat with virtually zero emissions, while the “inorganic” refuse will be melted, vitrified and collected at the bottom of the converter in the form of gravel basalt black, absolutely inert material (as confirmed by the laboratories of Dolomiti Energia). Such material is called Plasmarok and can be reused as aggregate in construction or otherwise.
Absolutely no; the incoming trucks will enter directly into a shed (an airtight door will open only for a moment to let them in and then close immediately behind them); the shed will not have windows that open normally, and the air exchange will be carried out through purifying filters which will block the dust and neutralize odors before their being released to the air; therefore, outside this hall there will not be any smells.

From its entry into the shed to the exit from the Plasma Converter there are no stacks or significant emissions; The outputs are
1) trucks to transportat the Plasmarok (inert vitrified material),
2) the exhaust air dryer and
3) the ambient air of the sheds, where the plant personnel will be working (treated in special filters too);
downstream the plasma converter, the synthesis gas or syngas, will be used to produce electricity and heat; initially by gas engines and dust emissions comparable to those emitted by catalyzed EURO4 trucks travelling at 80 km per hour; at the second stage these emissions will be reduced further, thanks to the “fuel cell”.

Fuel cells, also known as Gas Batteries, are highly efficient electrochemical devices for direct conversion of the chemical energy contained in fuels, into electricity. Fuel cells consist of three elements, the electrolyte, the fuel electrode side (anode) and the air electrode side (cathode). The voltage of a single fuel cell is about 1 V, and just like the batteries used as energy accumulators, the fuel cells are stacked in series (stacks) to generate higher voltage and consequently more power. Among the various existing Fuel Cells technologies, the emerging one is the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) based on materials such as zirconium or cerium used as an electrolyte and operating at temperatures between 600 and 1000 °C. The SOFC can operate with different fuels including natural gas and syngas from waste.

The plant has very low water requirements and therefore does not use any wells and ground, neither has it any uncontrolled discharges. It will use the water supply network with a consumption equivalent to 4 or 5 taps of the bathtub, and return the water to be treated by the public water treatment plant. Even the rain waters of the outdoor spaces will be treated; so there will be no entry of impure water into the ground or into water courses, obviously including the Adige flowing nearby.

Overall the processing will take place in closed sheds and noise emissions will be minimal and imperceptible to the homes in the area; the same applies to electromagnetic fields, since the energy produced will be fed directly into the existing electricity grid adjacent to the proposed site. As regards the risk of explosion, there will be no deposits of syngas which will be produced and consumed at the same time. The plant will be subject to ATEX regulations for those components involving storage of oxygen and nitrogen and process of flammable materials. Such areas are in general of small size (comparable to LPG tanks for private use of which there are thousands in Trentino) and placed far away from the viaduct to Lake Garda for security reasons; also the risk of explosion while being small will be confined only to the perimeter of the plant and with no risk to affect the surrounding areas.

The technology has been tested in the pilot plant in Swindon and verified by independent advisors as Fichtner Gmbh (independent consultant) and Technikon of Sacramento, California on behalf of the Department of Defence of USA.

How can it be used? The plant will produce about 10 million kilowatt hours of electricity (an amount comparable to that consumed by 17,000 people each year); It will also produce about 10 megawatts thermal power (heat), comparable to the energy of the boilers of a hundred condominiums or as many public buildings; electricity will be fed into the grid, but could be used (at a reduced price) by other companies in the area of ​​Casotte, reducing their operating costs (in Italy today the price of energy, as noted, is unfortunately among the highest in Europe); The heat, however, could also be used by other industries in Casotte, or it could go to heat agricultural crops in greenhouses nearby, or may be supplied to neighboring municipalities (Mori and Rovereto) to heat public buildings at reduced cost .

There are many advantages;

  1. Enhancement of an innovative clean technology, the “fuel cell“, in which SOLIDpower is a world leader;
  2. Opening of about 40 jobs for highly qualified technicians;
  3. Opening of 20 jobs for scientists and engineers engaged in the development of SOFC power systems;
  4. Competitiveness for companies located in Casotte, thanks to the sale of electricity and heat at below market prices;
  5. Reducing disposal costs for business – Trentino will reduce the cost of disposing their waste outside the province;
  6. Tax rebate induced by the approximately 60 million Euros needed to build the facility, (only VAT applies additional 13 million euro)
  7. Reducing global warming due to avoided deposition in waste landfill and replacement of electricity and heat from non-renewable sources.

SOFCsyngas Srl
Viale Trento, 115-117 C/o BIC
38017 Mezzolombardo (TN) ITALY
P. +39.0461.1755068
F. +39.0461.1755050