The Weapons Systems and Platforms program area expressed a need within to demonstrate technologies that reduce or eliminate waste streams at Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and have the potential to generate useful resources, including thermal energy and clean water. The Total Resource Utilization (TRU) Habitat solution integrates two technologies to reduce liquid and solid waste streams at FOB, while providing thermal energy and clean treated water. These technologies are the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) and Wastewater Electrochemical Treatment Technology (WETT). The objective of this project is to demonstrate two unique technologies that combine to form the TRU Habitat, which addresses liquid and solid waste streams at FOB. This eliminates the need for hazardous burn pits and inefficient incinerators, which greatly reduces the requirements for water and wastewater transportation, improves self-sustainability, decreases costs, and reduces security risks.
MAGS is an energy system fueled by waste. It is a patented technology that thermally breaks down hydrocarbons into solid carbon and synthesis gas and uses the synthesis gas to fuel the process. All combustible waste is converted into thermal energy (up to 120 kW), biochar (<6%), and water. The WETT technologies are designed to treat a variety of wastewater streams, including graywater using the WETT-G system and sewage/blackwater using the WETT-S system. These systems use advanced electrochemistry through electrocoagulation and electro-oxidation to treat wastewater streams to produce reusable water without the use of filters, membranes, biological treatment, or chemical addition.
The team from the Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center, Terragon, and Sustained Turn demonstrated the TRU Habitat system at the Marine Corps Spring 2021 Weapons and Tactics Instructor course at their expeditionary field site in Yuma, Arizona. The four-week demonstration measured the system’s solid and liquid waste reduction, effluent water quality, water recovery ability, energy use, transportability, suitability for military operations, and assessed the payback period in different use cases.
During the demonstration, the project team identified multiple areas that impact the TRU Habitat system performance. The field kitchen staff emptied large amounts of concentrated single waste streams (ex. coffee, sports drinks/powders, grease, etc.) which inundated the WETT-S. Additionally, the toilet flush trailer used to provide sewage waste to the WETT-S contained an unexpected preservative chemical that the WETT-S system was not able to treat. To mitigate these losses, the team recommends treating sewage from an establish restroom facility or a flush toilet trailer that does not include chemicals, adding additional staff to oversee water quality sampling, and mixing highly concentrated streams with dishwashing water, or graywater sources to dilute them. Due to these conditions, the team did not meet the water quality and water recovery performance objectives. Also, the energy use, payback period, and ease of use performance objectives were not met. The TRU Habitat system did meet the solid and liquid waste reduction, thermal energy production, and transportation performance objectives to determine that the system is most applicable for generator run remote operations that need to limit resupplies, conserve water, and cannot readily dispose of generated waste.