The Minister for Defence Science & Personnel, Warren Snowdon, says the energy requirements for future troop deployments could be powered by rubbish.
“The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and Melbourne based HRL Technology are developing a deployable Waste To Energy (WTE) concept capable of utilising a range of solid wastes or rubbish to produce electricity,” Mr Snowdon said.
One of the biggest fuel usages in a deployed environment, excluding air operations, is power generation for headquarters, field hospitals, and humanitarian relief sites where most power infrastructure is destroyed.
Mr Snowdon said a typical ADF battalion of 500 soldiers generates about 1,000 to 2,000 kg of waste per day on deployment.
“The aim of the Waste To Energy system is to recover the embodied energy of the rubbish and generate power for the base, reducing the need for diesel.
“DSTO and HRL Technology have developed a concept that uses a technology capable of processing up to 5,000 kg of solid waste per day. That’s processing more than twice the amount of rubbish produced by a typical battalion.”
Research by DSTO and HRL Technology scientists in Melbourne conducted over the last two and a half years found the most effective way to generate power was to utilise hot gases from waste combustion in a grate furnace, which heated compressed air for expansion through a turbine.
“The Waste to Energy system could potentially generate 200 kW of power, enough to power 240 homes and 3,000L of hot water per hour, utilising some 2,000 kg of rubbish per day.
“This would equate to a fuel saving of up to 1,300 litres of diesel per day – not only could that benefit the environment but it’s also a substantial potential cost saving,” Mr Snowdon said.
The beauty of the technology is that it’s relatively small and deployable and requires little or no water. The system could also be utilised at military bases between deployments to generate power, thereby reducing the ADF’s green house gas emissions by diverting waste from landfill.
“It’s hoped a new Waste To Energy system would also be suitable for use in disaster relief situations, such as the recent floods in Queensland, where many of the electrical assets could be destroyed and large amounts of combustible waste/debris are available,” he said.
The next stage of development involves the construction of a prototype unit to demonstrate the concept and this should be completed within 2 years.
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Alice Plate (Minister Snowdon): 0400 045 999
Stephen D’Arcy (DSTO): 0419 991 909
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664