The US Army is shipping a couple of giant trash-powered generators to Iraq in order to, hopefully, decrease the amount of fuel that needs to be transported around the volatile region.
The generators separate food waste from solid waste like trash and plastic. The food is converted to ethanol in a bioreactor, while the solid waste is converted to low-grade methane and propane. The innovation here is the ability to convert all trash, not food or plastic or paper, but all of them combined in one unit to produce power. The device can eat about a ton of trash every day, while producing about 50 kilowatts of excess power.
I was a little surprised to hear how much trash was being generated by the Army, but it turns out that pretty much everything they eat and drink from is disposable. I suppose it's better to turn it into fuel than send it to some landfill in Iraq, but it makes me wonder whether this is the most intelligent way to do things.
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