New tech zaps trash mounds into fistfuls of ash

November 16th, 2011 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 16 (IANS) Researchers are testing a high-tech trash disposal system that can zap a 50-gallon bag of waste into fistfuls of harmless ash.

Called the Micro-Auto Gasification System (MAGS), the unit is being evaluated by US Marine Corps to take care of trash piling up at forward operating bases (FOBs).

Marine combat engineer Lt. Col. Mike Jernigan said: “Right now, there are really only two solutions: burn it or bury it. Any potential solution must reduce the security and logistics concerns of trash disposal, and help the environment…that’s a good thing for the Marine Corps.”

MAGS is both eco-friendly and fuel efficient. A controlled decomposition process which thermally converts energy from biomass is the key to MAGS’ effectiveness, according to a Marine Corps statement.

“The system essentially bakes the trash and recovers a high portion of combustible gas byproduct, which is used to fuel the process,” said Donn Murakami, who leads the Marine Corps’ evaluation team.

Developed under the Environmental Quality, Discovery and Invention program at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) with the Canadian Department of Defence, MAGS was designed to meet the need for a compact, solid-waste disposal system for both ships and shore facilities.

“Decades ago, the idea of harvesting energy from trash was just a side-show in the environmental movement,” said Steve McElvany, MAGS programme officer at ONR.

“What we are doing for FOBs can be applied to schools, hospitals or an office building,” Murakami said.

“We are talking about disposing our waste in a different manner, rather than just sending it to the landfill,” said McElvany.

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