Trash Talkin’: Marines Test New Weapon in the War on Refuse

There isn’t usually this much trash talking outside of an Army-Navy game, but the U.S. Marines at Camp Smith, Hawaii, and the Office of Naval Research are really onto something good.

Good for the environment. Good for logistics. Good for the Marine Corps, and others who could implement such a process.

Working together, they are testing a high-tech trash disposal system that can reduce a standard 50-gallon bag of waste to a half-pint jar of harmless ash.

Deployed Marines will be able to use this new process to control the amount of trash produced. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. James Hoke

 

Called the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS), the unit is currently undergoing evaluation by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) as a possible solution to help Marines win their daily battle against the increasing trash at remote forward operating bases (FOB).



Lt. Col. Mike Jernigan, a Marine combat engineer who recently commanded a logistics battalion in Afghanistan, said waste disposal in the field is a problem.

“Right now, there are really only two solutions: burn it or bury it,” Jernigan said. “Any potential solution must reduce the security and logistics concerns of trash disposal, and help the environment…that’s a good thing for the Marine Corps.”

MAGS is both environmentally friendly and fuel efficient. A controlled decomposition process, which thermally converts energy from biomass is the key to MAGS’ effectiveness. “The system essentially bakes the trash and recovers a high portion of combustible gas byproduct, which is used to fuel the process,” said Donn Murakami, the MARFORPAC science adviser who leads the Marine Corps’ evaluation team.

Developed under the Environmental Quality, Discovery and Invention program at ONR and in collaboration with the Canada’s Department of National Defence, MAGS was designed to meet the need for a compact, solid-waste disposal system for both ships and shore facilities.

“Decades ago, the idea of harvesting energy from trash was just a side show in the environmental movement,” said Steve McElvany, the MAGS program officer at ONR. “Now, the technology is mature enough to where the Department of the Navy is seriously evaluating its practical and tactical benefits.”

The energy-efficient and clean-burning properties of MAGS make it attractive to expeditionary units. It has a low carbon footprint, and emissions are not visible, which is a tactical plus. Waste heat can also be used for practical purposes, such as heating living quarters or water.

“What we are doing for FOBs can be applied to schools, hospitals or an office building,” Murakami said. “We are talking about disposing our waste in a different manner, rather than just sending it to the landfill.”

Testing of MAGS will continue through March. Next summer, phase three of the evaluation will address the system’s expeditionary aspect at the Pohakuloa Training Area. Hawaii.

(Information from article written by by Dave Nystrom, Office of Naval Research)

About the Office of Naval Research
The Department of the Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps’ technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

About Julie Weckerlein

Julie Weckerlein is no stranger to the blogosphere. As a personal and professional blogger for the past 10 years, she further contributes to the internet as a web content manager for the Department of Defense. She's also an Air Force Reserve public affairs non-commissioned officer after a nine-year active duty career with assignments in Germany, Italy and the Pentagon, and a deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat correspondent for the Air Force News Service. Her affinity for science media started with her first magazine subscription to Ranger Rick at age 9 and she's never lost her excitement for the cool things happening in the world of science.
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    Inspirational video post!! Really interesting topics to know impressive info about Marines test new weapon in the war on refuse. Thanks! :)