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The Military's Awesome New Trash Disposal System The Military's Awesome New Trash Disposal System
GOOD Blog

The Military's Awesome New Trash Disposal System

by Andrew Price

October 6, 2009
A defense technology company called QinetiQ-which normally makes all sorts of scary robots and surveillance equipment-is now building a portable system that the U.S. military can use in the field to convert trash to energy, sort of like Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future. From the BBC: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% the volume of the waste that entered, along with 400kW of power. Those are pretty impressive numbers, and the whole PyTEC system (which uses what's called pyrolysis, heating up the trash to release a combustible gas) can fit in two container trucks. This will be really helpful for the military. With a self-contained waste-management system, far-flung bases on the front lines won't have to ship waste out on dangerous roads. But it could do wonders in peaceful contexts, too. If we had these in cities we wouldn't have to drive our trash around and could make some spare energy to boot.
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