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US Army Turns Waste To Wealth

by Tanya Thomas on October 9, 2009 at 8:26 AM
 US Army Turns Waste To Wealth

The defence firm Qinetiq has sent an energy-efficient, waste-to-wealth system to the US.

According to a report by BBC News, the PyTEC system heats mixed waste, releasing a gas that can be burned to produce five times more energy than is required to drive the system.


Qinetiq said that the system, already in use on British navy ship HMS Ocean, has been "containerized" for US army use.

The approach could see use in urban areas, reducing municipal waste volume by 95 percent while producing energy.

The process hinges on pyrolysis, in which waste subjected to high temperatures releases combustible gases.

In essence, it is the same process that happens above a match; heating of the wood releases gases that burn in the presence of oxygen, producing the visible flame.

In pyrolysis, the heating occurs in the absence of oxygen, and the released gases are gathered and stored for later use.

"We're reducing their logistical footprint, reducing the number of body bags, and reducing their fossil fuel usage," said Pat McGlead from Qinetiq.

This is in contrast to simple incineration or gasification - another energy-from-waste approach that heats particular kinds of waste in the presence of oxygen to create combustible gases.

Typically, such systems require that the waste be of a singular type, and diced up before entering the gasification chamber.

In the PyTEC system, a large screw-shaped column takes in up to 100kg per hour of untreated mixed waste - including glass and tin, particularly troublesome waste sources for thermal waste approaches.

The waste is heated, releasing gases that are removed and used to power a steam turbine.

What exits the system is a glassy substance just 5 percent the volume of the waste that entered, along with 400kW of power.

A similar system was installed on the UK navy ship HMS Ocean late last year.

"We've taken the plant that we developed for HMS Ocean and containerised it for the US army as a means to make it more mobile, more easily deployable and reducing their fossil fuel requirements," said Pat McGlead, waste management business development manager for Qinetiq.

The system fits into two shipping containers for easy deployment.

The systems will be deployed to one of 55 "forward operating bases" in Iraq and Afghanistan - temporary outposts of 600 front-line soldiers that, until now, had no formal arrangements for waste disposal.

"By providing them with a self-contained waste management capability, we're reducing their logistical footprint, reducing the number of body bags, and reducing their fossil fuel usage," McGlead told BBC News.

Source: ANI
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