TGER – Turning trash into precious fuel
Trash, as it turns out, is an attractive feedstock. There are several commercial companies developing technologies that use wastes as fuel. The military currently burns its trash in incinerators, emitting icky emissions and eating up a lot of fuel, time, and human power since it takes quite a few people to run one. Also, cutting down on the use of diesel fuel is especially important since the trucks that haul the fuel are basically moving targets sure to make huge bangs. They have developed a prototype generator that uses trash as fuel to generate power. The generator is called TGER (“tiger”) and the acronym stands for Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery. The prototype, which uses a variety of technologies to run an electrical generator, will be tested until August. The purpose of the unit is to cut down on the amount of diesel fuel used and to cut down on the amount of garbage that camps generate, which are security risks. The wet and dry wastes are separated. The dry trash is crushed, pelletized, and fed into a gasifier where the pellets are heated until they’re turned into synthetic gas, which then fuels the generator. The wet waste is converted with the use to enzymes into hydrous ethanol, which is then blended with synthetic gas to boost the generator’s output to 55 kW.
There are hopes to improve the technology so that literally all trash goes in one end, and electricity comes out the other – kind of the goal we all have for waste-free living. And the improvements are needed, since start-up time is a full 6 hours, and takes up about 1 gallon of diesel fuel an hour. If the TGER units work well in the harsh Baghdad conditions, the generator will be deployed in smaller camps, where the higher percentage of food waste can improve efficiency. The portable generator could also be used in disaster-relief situations where there is a lot of trash and the need for generators. The U.S. Navy has shown interest in the unit as well.