One man’s trash is another man’s energy

December 31, 2012 By
Posted in Military Life, Military Strategy

While there is a large push for alternative energy programs in the states, most would not think that those on the frontlines are also participating in this effort by converting everyday waste into energy. The Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery II prototype (TGER) is a trailer-towed machine that uses everyday waste and garbage to generate both electricity and fuel for a generator.

Using paper, plastic, or food waste, one 60-kilowatt diesel generator can take the garbage from a unit and either convert it to synthetic gas to run a generator at 75 percent in less than two hours, or make alcohol, that when combined with the synthetic gas, can power a generator on full power.

With the ability to run generators on commonplace garbage instead of having to rely on fuel which has to be transported from larger bases, smaller, more remote Forward Operating Bases (FOB’s) will not only have a reliable fuel source, but they will also be able to decrease the amount of convoys and trips outside the wire that are needed to get the fuel. Ultimately this saves not only time and resources, but limits the amount of time that soldiers are vulnerable to IED’s and ambushes, as these convoys are often a target.

The Prototype, developed by a partnership of the Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), SAIC, TGER Technologies, Defense Life Sciences and Purdue University, was first tested in 2008 in Baghdad Iraq to see how the prototype fared against the harsh desert conditions. While the first prototype had its kinks and produced 155 BTU’s of gas, the new and improved version yields 550 BTU’s and is not only more efficient,  but the process that converts the waste into gas, has no carbon footprint. For every 30 cubic yards of trash, one cubic yard of EPA tested and approved ash is produced, which the EPA considers as nothing more than a benign soil additive.

Equipped with a touch-screen interface, a single soldier can control the system and monitor every aspect of the conversion process, ultimately limiting the need for additional contractors and allowing the saved time and resources to be diverted elsewhere. While the groups that designed TGER 2.0 are still researching how they can make it more efficient by utilizing every aspect of energy given off by the conversion process such as the heat given off by the machine, this new technology is so innovative that its benefits are not limited to the armed forces. In years to come we will see this technology fielded by everyone from FEMA in disaster relief efforts to organizations seeking to convert from limited to renewable energy sources.

For more information about TGER and what it has done for our troops in the past, check out:

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