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This Obsidian Mirror Was Once Toxic Chemical Waste

Illustration for article titled This Obsidian Mirror Was Once Toxic Chemical Waste

There are plenty of ways to deal with chemical waste: You could ship it across the ocean. Or pump in into Ohio. Or, you could use a Back to the Future-style process that "recreates the conditions inside a volcano" to incinerate waste. One byproduct of the process? A glassy synthetic obsidian.


As part of a show at this month's Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, Studio Drift—aka Dutch artists Lonneke Gordijn and Ralph Nauta—used an unusual technique to create a standing mirror made out of the waste product that comes from the process: Obsidian.

With an emission of just 0.1 percent, this method is the most safe and clean way of recycling raw chemical materials in the world," Studio Drift explains. Here's how Dezeen describes the process:

The recycling process involves gradually heating chemical waste in an industrial oven until it exceeds the melting points of different constituent materials, including gold, mercury and silver, which are extracted in liquid form.

The oven replicates the condition of a volcano, and the ash and residue left over at the end of the procedure can be reheated to produce a black glass that resembles the natural obsidian formed after volcanic eruptions.

Illustration for article titled This Obsidian Mirror Was Once Toxic Chemical Waste

From toxic waste comes a beautiful black stone, with barely any emissions at all. Studio Drift's project is a great little illustration of the process—but more than anything, it makes me wonder why this is the first time I'm hearing of this technology. Anyone else? [Studio Drift; Dezeen]

Update: Apparently, the process is a bit different than plasma gasification, so we've update the post to reflect the change.

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So this may be a crazy question... but its a serious one if someone knows the answer. Since you're incinerating waste with the heat of a volcano, if there is an active volcano somewhere (and there are a few around the world), couldn't you ACTUALLY dump this super toxic waste into it? Of course I'm picturing a LOTR style pit with lava at the bottom whereas I suspect the real thing is more like tiny holes with lava oozing out...