The objective of this effort was to demonstrate technology for efficient onsite destruction of the non-hazardous mixed solid waste produced during overseas contingency operations (OCO), including waste from kitchens, packaging, latrines, and soldiers’ personal items. The technology sought have been able to demonstrate, in order of preference:
- Production of exportable useful fuel (without further refinement), electricity, or heated water (note: solid waste is not typically stored in close proximity to hot water facilities, and most OCO operational fueled equipment is designed to use JP-8 and DF-2)
- Operating in self-powered or “net energy neutral”, or
- Minimization of demand for external liquid fuels or other energy inputs relative to conventional incineration.
After processing, the residual waste volume should be reduced in excess of 95%, excluding non- combustibles (e.g., glass, metals, etc.). The technology should have been capable of operating in worldwide deployment and climatic conditions. The system’s operation should have been automated, minimizing human labor during preparation, operation, and post-processing.
The proposed system should have been packaged and containerized compatible with military airlift (e.g., C-130), sealift, and ground transport. Once on site, the system should be extractable from its transport configuration. The fully loaded containers should not have exceeded safe lifting capability of available material handling equipment on semi-improved, semi-hard (dirt/compact sand) surfaces. The system should not require unique skills or equipment to install, operate, or repair. Existing military regulations require the system comply with the applicable U.S. Environmental Protection Agency system design or operational requirements.
Successful proposals required executing a test protocol to represent military field wastes. As a baseline, the waste composition at a typical site is provided in Table 1. The source report also describes multiple "challenge" recipes representing varying mission lifecycle characterizations. The system should not have been robust enough to receive non-homogeneous field waste compositions (e.g., mixed composite wastes including partial non-combustible wet foods, banded corrugated fiberboard, and partially consumed plastic drink bottles), so the technology should have been capable of processing significant waste stream variations.
Additional objectives can be broken down according to the size of the contingency base, and technologies were sought that apply to either of the following two applications:
Technology for Expeditionary Contingency Bases with a Nominal Size of 150 Personnel:
- Processing rate of 0.5 ton/day.
- Minimize OCO fuels and parasitic energy usage; the objective is "net energy neutral" as an improvement to conventional incineration.
- Packaged in Tri-cons or Bi-cons, not more than 20 feet in total; individual containers may not exceed 10,000 pound loader on-site.
- Supportable by organic military unit capabilities (emphasis on operational and maintenance simplicity, with a modular incinerator as the baseline).
Technology for Contingency Bases with a Size of 550–1000 Personnel:
- Processing rate of 2–3 tons/day.
- Systems that are expandable to higher processing quantities might be beneficial for larger military operations.
- Minimize OCO liquid fuel and parasitic energy usage; the preference hierarchy is "energy exporting,” “net energy neutral,” and external fuel reduction.
- Packaged in Tri-cons, Bi-cons, or CONEX. Footprint and stack height shall be realistic for military expeditionary encampments; individual containers shall not exceed lifting capacity using a 25,000 pound loader on-site.
- Objective is journeyman military civil engineering field personnel (electrician, utility person, heavy equipment operators, etc.) shall install, assemble, and initiate system bed-down within 20 man-hours.
Successful proposals included the following:
- A planned final deliverable that documents the fully optimized system, proposed energy sources, and relevant process and instrumentation diagrams.
- Documentation regarding anticipated footprint.
- If available, previous emissions data with similar feedstocks.
Technologies to be demonstrated must be at or beyond TRL 4 entering demonstration, with a goal of at least TRL 7 upon exiting.
Funded projects will appear below as project overviews are posted to the website.
Throughout military history, logistical challenges involving fuels have been a significant operational concern. Each Department of Defense service has developed strategies and established policies to reduce operational energy consumption, especially liquid fuels.
Military sites produce significant amounts of solid waste; it is currently viewed as a logistics and operational fuel burden, but may serve as a potential future site energy/fuel source. Larger base camps tend to have better defined waste management systems due to factors such as manpower, location, footprint, and funding. Conversely, smaller deployed camps lack the resources to effectively manage their solid waste. Methods commonly employed include contracting with local foreign nationals to haul waste away, utilizing rudimentary landfills or dump sites, and burning waste in open pits or piles. All of these methods have drawbacks. Allowing contractors access inside the security perimeter impacts site personnel and creates a potential security threat. Leaving the waste unmanaged at dump sites increases risks involving disease-bearing organisms. Open burning of waste produces toxic fumes and ash that create respiratory and skin exposure hazards for soldiers.
SERDP has supported the development and demonstration of a number of technologies associated with waste to energy conversion. Proposers should be familiar with completed and ongoing projects in order to avoid duplication of previous efforts. Project descriptions are available on the SERDP website.