AFRL Reducing Demand for Fuel, Water

When setting up an expeditionary base downrange, the Base Expeditionary Airfield Resources (BEAR) Global Management Office (GMO) is responsible for rapidly fielding and sustaining critical air and space operations.

These operations are heavily reliant on fossil fuels and tethered water supplies to meet mission requirements.

U.S. Air Force Base Expeditionary Airfield Resources rely heavily on fossil fuels. Air Force researchers are looking for alternatives to help reduce demand. (Photo provided by the Naval Research Lab)

U.S. Air Force Base Expeditionary Airfield Resources rely heavily on fossil fuels. Air Force researchers are looking for alternatives to help reduce demand. (Photo provided by the Naval Research Lab)

As these deployed Air Force operations are energy and water intensive and considered critical infrastructure, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Advanced Power Technology Office (APTO) and the BEAR GMO are jointly working to address these risks while meeting the priorities set forth by the 2013 Air Force Energy Strategic Plan to improve the physical and energy security of these deployed airmen.

APTO and BEAR stakeholders are developing several concept capabilities to support the Air Force’s Energy Strategic Plan and the BEAR Modernization Plan through development and initial field demonstration. The first effort is a deployable Expeditionary Waste Water Processing System (EW2PS) unit designed to energy efficiently handle solid waste and recycle gray water.

The system leverages advanced filtration technologies and reverse osmosis, and reduces non-potable fresh water demands.

The current project scope includes building the EW2PS and testing it at a contractor facility, followed by demonstration at a BEAR GMO specified location. The second capability concept seeks to eliminate military open burn pits and subcontracting third parties for waste disposal at expeditionary sites.

APTO reviewed state-of-the-art waste processing technologies to identify a commercialized, self-contained, mass waste incinerator or gasifier that:

  • Processes unsorted mixed waste with no size reduction or uniformity requirements
  • Meets U.S. environmental regulations for emissions and by-products
  • Requires minimal training and manpower requirements for operation and maintenance
  • Minimizes fuel usage to process waste, and
  • Transportable using existing military equipment and assets APTO is currently discussing demonstration locations within the Air Force.


This project helps meet the 2013 Air Force Energy Strategic Plan priorities to improve expeditionary resiliency by mitigating energy and water supply disruption that reduces operational risks. This effort develops several concepts for Air Force evaluation that address wastewater recovery/reuse and solid waste disposal.

Additional advantages include:

  • Reduces demand on infrastructure
  • Reduces energy demand from fossil fuel at deployed operations
  • Eliminates burn pits and accompanying occupational risks
  • Minimizes deployed labor requirements

This capability also significantly improves installation security by minimizing additional base access for resupplying operational requirements.

Story and information provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory 

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