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Plasco's Ottawa waste-to-energy plant produced syngas from trash Thursday morning and used it to run engines in the afternoon. ((CBC))

A demonstration waste-to-energy plant in Ottawa has finally turned its first load of trash into power.

The Plasco Energy Group plant at the Trail Road landfill announced its success Thursday, 17 months after construction began on the project in partnership with the City of Ottawa.

The $27 million plant uses a process called plasma gasification to decompose waste under high heat and low oxygen into a gas mixture called syngas, and a glass-like material that can be turned into asphalt or concrete. Without oxygen, the waste does not burn.

Other leftover materials, such as sulphur, chlorine and heavy metals, are to be separated for disposal.

Once the plant is running at full capacity, it is to divert 85 tonnes of waste a day from the city's landfills while generating enough electricity to run the facility and power 3,600 homes.

Plasco CEO Rod Bryden said he was disappointed but not surprised that it took longer than expected to get the plant up and running, as no plant like it had ever been built before.

"The main problem, if you like, was an inaccurate forecast when we looked at how long would it take to go from finishing construction to actually finishing [and] testing every single part of the plant," he said.

During an earlier attempt to fire up the plant, the plant had to be shut down due to a broken water pipe after only six tonnes of garbage were processed.

The plant successfully completed a full cycle on Thursday, producing syngas from trash in the morning, and then using the gas to run engines in the afternoon, Bryden said.

Plasco hopes its demonstration plant in Ottawa will persuade other cities to buy the technology.

Construction of the plant started in September 2006. It was to run as a two-year pilot project.