The science advisor at U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific held a demonstration of a prototype Micro Auto Gasification System here Wednesday.
Donn D. Murakami conducted the demonstration to show Lt. Gen. Duane D. Thiessen, commander of MARFORPAC, how the MAGS works.
The MAGS is a waste disposal system that allows units to efficiently manage their waste in an environmentally-friendly manner. This technology was developed by Terragon Environmental Technologies Inc., of Montreal, Canada, partnered with the Office of Naval Research and the Canadian Department of Defense.
Marines at forward operating bases would often dig large pits to be filled with trash and set on fire, which would burn for months.
In 2010, the commander of MARFORPAC noted that the way waste was disposed of at FOBs was unhealthy for the environment and harmful to people. He requested a better way to dispose of waste.
“The reason why we work in this area is, in the end, we are trying to provide those Marines in the future better tools to do their job,” said Murakami.
The MAGS uses diesel fuel to cook the first waste load at 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the waste begins to create synthetic natural gas that can then be burned as the necessary energy to continue the process.
Murakami said the system reduces the volume of typical solid waste by more than 95 percent and leaves glass and metals sanitized and intact for recycling.
In a period of 24 hours, it can convert up to 1,500 pounds of waste to synthetic gas and char. Because the machine does not incinerate the waste, its emissions are extremely low in carbon dioxide levels.
According to Murakami, a double unit can handle the daily waste of 1,000 Marines in austere expeditionary settings or at FOBs.
MARFORPAC is looking at the possibility of using the excess heat MAGS produces as space or water heating, said Murakami.
Prior to being at MARFORPAC, the system was being looked at for use on ships. It has been considered for use at FOBs for approximately a year and is the first and currently only system in the U.S.
The prototype is in phase one of testing at MARFORPAC, and uses electricity, diesel fuel and requires an operator. It is located behind the headquarters building where electricity, water and fuel are easy-to-find commodities.
“Reducing the waste stream and keeping it out of the landfills and possibly being able to use the energy that’s generated has great potential here where we are trying to realize energy sustainability and extend the use of our landfills,” said Col. Jeffrey R. Woods, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Bases Hawaii.
“To to be able to test it here, I think, is a great opportunity to see what we can learn and hopefully move forward,” Woods said.
Evaluation will determine how Marines operate the machine and what they like and dislike about its operations. Eight Marines will have a two-week training session to operate MAGS.
In phase two of the evaluation, the system will be taken to the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island where they will assess how the system operates in an expeditionary environment.
Murakami said the Office of Naval Research will make the final evaluation and implement the final changes. They hope to have the MAGS systems in use at FOBs sometime in 2012.
Other environmentally-friendly projects being considered for the near future are net-zero structures, which are structures that produce the energy they consume, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to be used in garrison.