On an island world-famous for its chain of active volcanoes, Marines are harnessing extreme heat to test a process that could become the future of military waste management.
“It’s not burning,” said Ben Tritt, the MarForPac science advisor for Office of Naval Research. “It’s gasification under a very controlled environment, and it’s much cleaner than burning … It’s (also) a self-sustaining process.”
The machine behind the magic is called MAGS (Micro Auto Gasification System), and perhaps the most impressive aspect of the technology is its simplicity.
Operators start MAGS with diesel fuel, bringing the inside of its insulated drum to temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The machine is then “fed” trash at a rate of approximately 50 pounds per hour, turning 95 percent of it into gas which is used as fuel to sustain the process. The remaining 5 percent is converted to inert ash which can be safely disposed of in landfills, or mixed with compost, asphalt or cement. One machine is capable of meeting the daily waste disposal needs of approximately 1,000 troops.