Gas burning to trash burning generators


Well-known member
Steel Soldiers Supporter
Front Royal, VA
Someone told me recently that the military is going to be rapidly replacing its existing fleet of gas and diesel burning generators, with a new generation of gensets that are designed to burn trash. While this idea is interesting, I am not sure if 1.The rumors are true, 2.How the entire setup works, and 3.What specifics about the trash enable the object to run efficiently, taking into account the varied nature of waste and pollution. In my last point, I mean that one man's trash is different composition than another man's, and some items burn with hazardous by-products, such as plastics, batteries (heavy metals), etc. that are a component of mixed solid waste.

Any details, links, or pics are appreciated.


Super Moderator
Steel Soldiers Supporter
Mid Hudson Valley NY
While Im sure someone in DOD WANTS to do that, the fact is it's not going to happen any time in the next few years......

JP-8 powered engines will be with us for a long time...


Active member
Lebanon, TN
I have a little expertise in trash burners. Generally, a trash burner is a fixed location power plant. The trash is burnt to heat a boiler which in turn produces steam to spin a generator or possibly a large chiller. I am pretty sure that most military bases already have incinerators for disposing of shredded, classified documents but due to the amount of trash required (MANY tons per day to support even a moderately sized boiler) and the environmental permits required, I doubt it.


The Envelope Please.
Supporting Vendor
IVO Tokyo Japan
RE: trash

That was me that posted it. Got it from a contact who is in the know. At least 2 systems operational and providing some power within a couple bases in theater. btw at least one base is generating some power here state side.

Solar panels on living units and office units was the other thing brought up.

Intent is to do everything to reduce fuel requirements and thus reduce targets on the road. Don;t have a lot more details I can go into.


New member
Chattanooga TN
RE: trash

Man can you picture the size of an injector of a trash burning engine? LOL
Well It is easy to believe a large baseb couldbproduce enough trach to run one, the dumpster behind my shop on base is emptied every day. The best part of it is there is only 10 people who use it regulary


New member
edmonton ,alberta
like wood gas?

look up wood gas generators on wikipedia...suspect a similar setup.burning trash in a zero/low oxygen chamber (pyrolisis?)to produce syn-gas...a mix of hydrogen and carbon monoxide.with an engine setup for it,it will burn readily.

another setup,uses the waste heat from exaust to heat trash in a closed chamber to produce the same syn-gas...which then flows into the engine intake."enhanced" air intake reduces need for regular fuel.this is actually a road worthy setup,and has been tested,but is rather bulky.

google "wood gas truck" to see a working external wood gas generator.there's a vid on u-tube as well.this is an old idea...the germans used it during the war.


Possum Connoisseur
Akenback acres near Gadsden, AL
The Gooberment (which includes DOD), in it's typical bassackwards way of doing things, just realized that a large part of its budget is used to heat and cool infastructure.
It is also tripping over it's self in an attempt to show the world how green it can be.
I was stationed at Fort Stewart, GA, in 1995 and the central power plant was burning wood chips to make steam for heat and power.
It probably could be (or may have already have been) modified to burn rubbish too.
The navy has a ship that is being ran on biofuels.
The next generation of HEMMETs will have electric motors on some axles that will drive it.
When the vehicle reaches it's field site the engine is used to provide power eliminating the need to drag generators. In times of power outages every motor pool would have a fleet of mobile generators that could be sent to critical need facilities to power them until the emergency was over.
Every base I have been to has solar panels being used in some capacity....mostly for small applications such as remote lighting and battery charging.....but I have seen large arrays on some buildings.


The Envelope Please.
Supporting Vendor
IVO Tokyo Japan
RE: like wood gas?

Army Times that came out today had a story about fuel usage within the services and concern with the price of oil. USAF is seeking 26 million to research use of bio-diesel, synthetics, and other alternatives.

My initial reason for the original post was to bait someone knowledgable to come on line to discuss solar and some of the other alternatives to generator produced power. I don't know much about it. The fact the military is now looking into it is a powerful statement in my opinion. A few months ago I saw my first flexible solar panel demonstation but never really got to discuss it. Recently we also had a discusion about survival situations. My planning and figuring along these lines resulted in a problem of how to deal with fuel for a generator for a long term situation. Solar maybe the answer but I'm not sure what power requirements would be for heating and cooking and a radio? Another question would be do solar panel deteriorate over time?


Roanoke, VA
My understanding is the trash burners will use trash mostly from mess halls. The plastics are seperated out and simmered to make propane and methane, the organics are fermented to make ethanol.
The gas and ethanol is used to power the engine that turns the alternator.
I am sure they will have something in place to ensure no nasties (such as the batteries you mention) find their way into the system.

Medlog - Long term storage of fuel is an issue. Don't claim to be an expert but thats the very reason many home units are propane. Now if you are looking for a easy long term solution, in my opinion one of the best is water. Use the water flow from a stream to turn a wheel which makes the DC, store the DC in deep cycle batteries and use an inverter to make the AC all your toys need.
Solar is good but the thing I like about water power is it generates 24/7 (as long as the water flows). Solar is limited in most of the country during the day and no good at night anywhere. Solar would be an ideal top-up/backup to run in conjunction with a water solution.


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