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article imageOp-Ed: A Mideast conflict could turn garbage into energy

By Eliot Elwar     Dec 17, 2012 in Technology
As the globe searches for superior power sources to become less dependent upon desert oil barons, the US has developed technology that converts fuel from garbage. This fuel source could become more necessary during the coming Mideast conflicts.
The US Army has developed a mobile machine that consumes trash and converts it into diesel, alleviating the bothersome problems involving garbage disposal and fuel transportation in foreign unfriendly countries. When the US Army goes into foreign countries, it has to ensure its personnel and vehicles are sufficiently equipped. This means much gas and other energy sources have to be transported to support US armed forces, often in the center of unfriendly regions. The US Department of Defense supplied its forces in Iraq and Afghanistan with millions of gallons of fuel monthly in 2008. This massive amount of fuel was required for combat and combat support vehicles, according to the New York Times.
Rubbish removal is an additional concern in distant countries because the military can produce large amounts of trash. A 550 person unit can create about 1130 kg of garbage daily. Removing the waste can be a problem due to the cost of incinerators that are normally used for either one or two years, according to ECBC Army news.
The US Army solved these problems by transforming its garbage into diesel fuel by using an advance machine that uses pressure and heat to break long chain polymers like plastics into short-chain petroleum hydrocarbons, which turns trash into gas. The Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery (TGER) is developing its second version: an enormous trash removal on wheels. The modernized TGER employs an advance system involving a horizontal gasifying system. Condensation can be infused into the gasifying system, boosting the amount of useable gas generated, according to ECBC Army news.
The modified machines can generate 550 BTUs of gas, and when stated up, they can make enough fuel to power a 60 kW generator continually while somebody keeps feeding the TGER its garbage nutrition. The TGER is environmentally friendly because the "TGER reduces the waste volume, according to ECBC Army news.
Recently, “New York-based Global Energy Incorporated, a waste-to-renewable-energy technology developer, has entered into agreements with Renewable Diesel LLC and Covanta Energy Corporation to pursue projects to convert municipal solid waste and other hydrocarbon-rich biomass materials into renewable diesel,” according to BIOMASS magazine.
Turning waste into energy is not a new idea. The US-based company Covanta operates power plants for burning garbage to heat water that turns turbines that generates power. Burning trash for power plants is a useful idea, as long as the plants employ air-pollution controls. The pyrolysis process has been around for years. Pyrolysis involves breaking down organic matter by heating it. This process is employed in the chemical industry to generate either charcoal or methanol from wood, or to make certain kinds of plastics for either water pipes or syngas from biomass. The German company AlphaKat has developed the Katalytische Drucklose Verolung process, a catalytic low pressure system for using waste materials, according to ALPHAKAT news. Therefore, the key to energy self-sufficiency may not only require sucking oil from the ground, but transforming trash into gas. When the Mideast erupts into all out warfare, this kind of fuel making will become more necessary worldwide.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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