February 2, 2007 8:47 AM PST

Portable, trash-powered generator ready for deployment

Scientists at Purdue University have developed a portable generator that uses trash as its primary fuel source.

Called a tactical biorefinery, the device was designed at the behest of the U.S. Army. But researchers say the generators could also be used in civilian situations, such as emergencies that require portable generators.

About the size of a small moving van, the diesel generator can process several types of refuse, including paper, plastic, Styrofoam, cardboard, woodchips and food waste.


"This is a very promising technology," Michael Ladisch, a Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering who leads the project, said Thursday in a statement. "In a very short time, it should be ready for use in the military, and I think it could be used outside the military."

The biorefinery uses two different processes to create fuel.

The machine separates food material into a bioreactor that uses the yeast ferments to create ethanol.

Other materials go to a gasifier and are converted into propane gas and methane, which then fuel the diesel engine that creates electricity.

The system is designed to run on diesel oil for several hours until the gasifier and the bioreactor begin to produce fuel, researchers said.

The Army commissioned completion of a prototype and is considering it for future use. According to its builders, the system lowers the potential danger and expense of transporting fuel and waste and helps cover the tracks of mobile military units because it destroys trash--the evidence of their presence.

The generator is also an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional diesel generators, they say. Using biomass as a fuel is less polluting than oil because plants absorb carbon dioxide, according to scientists at Indiana-based Purdue.

Also, they note that the system is efficient, with the first prototype producing about 90 percent more energy than it consumes.

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'Cause this sucker is bound to disappear. Electricity from garbage? Power instead of landfills? Forget it. Too many large entities would lose too much money.
Posted by count0--2008 (38 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not likely
This is a military-initiated request, so it makes it unlikely to disappear. One can assume, too, that its rise in an academic environment (rather than from an independent inventor) also increases its chance of survival.

But, hey, I have my naive moments.
Posted by tlcoles (11 comments )
Link Flag
trash to steam
In the U.S. of A. there are quite a number of trash incinerators that produce electricity, but they are not mobile. Several years ago when I was doing repair work on some of them, so many had sprouted up in the eastern part of the US that companies had started mining old landfills to feed them. 90% reduction in bulk going to the landfill, and the better plants also recover recyclable materials.
Posted by msg63d (7 comments )
Link Flag
"the first prototype producing about 90 percent more energy than it consumes"

Posted by warrenmca (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
perpetual motion
Posted by jjaser (14 comments )
Link Flag
Maybe the deployment of these "gizmos" might just help turn the tide on the bad guys in the "war" zones: imagine a "Portable, trash-powered generator" to provide combat units with unlimited power for medical equipment usage in cases where the choppers can come under heavy fire and risk being shot down - they can be treated in-house - less travel risks, less risk to supply lines/routes...
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Commander_Spock is a talkbot, not human
Have a nice day!
Posted by lesfilip (496 comments )
Link Flag
Just Where...
... do these "Portable, trash-powered" generators get built, if it is in Iraq - then less "unemployment" lines to be targeted! Could Pres. Chavez, the One-Laptop-Per child guy... be in trouble here too, along with big oil! Guess the wars will soon be over faster that we know it!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Back To The Future
Changing World Technologies already has something that does exactly what these scientists have claimed to develop...

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.changingworldtech.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.changingworldtech.com/</a>

Also anyone remember how Doc put that Bannanna into the Delorean? Don't really understand how it made the 1.21 gigawatts, but hey it was just a movie...
Posted by SiXiam (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mr. Fusion, Sr.
I'm guessing that putting in random items from your garbage into
your car and getting 1.21 gw is still a bit off yet.
This is probably just Mr. Fusions dad. Or his grandpappy.
Posted by Dr. B (91 comments )
Link Flag
Law of conservation of energy?
"Also, they note that the system is efficient, with the first prototype producing about 90 percent more energy than it consumes." I thought that energy couldn't be created or destroyed? If so how does this thing produce 90% MORE energy than it consumes?
Posted by EricDaEvilGenius (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not exactly
The energy that it gets out of trash is greater than the energy used to extract it. Obviously you want a system that produces more energy than it uses, or else it is inefficient.
Posted by OscarWeb (76 comments )
Link Flag
Conservation of energy
Mass is converted into energy in this case.
Posted by clavboy (1 comment )
Link Flag
I wonder how much each one costs
Depending on the cost per unit and the energy it actually produces this could make a great community generator. Think about not putting your waste in a bin, but a feeder system that drives one of these generators.

Reduction in landfills and extra energy without the use of oil.
Posted by ahickey (177 comments )
Reply Link Flag
energy in bond
Organic compound contain highly energeic bonds. You can transform this energy into more useful forms (diesel, methane, ethanol, octane) using living organism (yeast &#38; bacteria)or catalysts (metals, enzymes, etc).

In each case the conditions (temp, humid, acidity, etc) must be just right. The initial energy helps set up the conditions and small amount is used to maintain them.

No laws of physics are broken.
Posted by urbanvoyeur (52 comments )
Reply Link Flag
is it available?
very much interesting in the product....
does it available to buy now?
Posted by 11awkeye (1 comment )
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