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toFUEL

by Mr. Don Kennedy

The year was 2008, and with the ongoing war, Iraq was a dangerous landscape for Soldiers on the ground, especially convoys traveling to and from base camps. Soldiers transporting fuel frequently encountered roadside bombs and enemy ambushes. Those risks can now be reduced with the Tactical Garbage to EnergyRefinery (TGER) prototype.

“If you’re a forward operating base, you don’t want a local contractor coming in to haul your garbage out, because you don’t know if they’re good guys or bad guys. You also don’t want to be hauling fuel in, because those convoys are targets and risk the lives of Soldiers and contractors,” said Dr. James J. Valdes, the Army’s scientific advisor for biotechnology at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), MD. ECBC is the Army’s principal research and development center for chemicaland biological defense technology, engineering and field operations.

For 90 days, Camp Victory in Baghdad was home to the first two prototypes of TGER, deployable machines tactically designed to convert military field waste into immediately usable energy for forward operating bases (FOBs). The trailer-mounted biorefinery system uses hybrid technology to support a 550-person unit that generates about 2,500 pounds of trash per day; it converts about 2,000 pounds of that garbage—paper, plastic, packaging and food waste—into electricity using a standard 60-kilowatt diesel generator.

THE PRESSING PROBLEM

At the height of the war in Iraq, eight incinerators were operating around the clock to burn waste generated by Camp Victory, according to Valdes. Nearly 12,000 gallons of fuel per day were needed to power the incinerators.

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