Environmental Engineering Reference
Tactical Garbage to Energy Refinery (TGER)
James J. Valdes and Jerry B. Warner
Abstract An emerging concept is the convergence of “green practices” such as
systemic sustainability and renewable resources with military operational needs.
One example is developmental tactical refineries. These systems leverage advanced
biotechnology and thermochemical processes for energy production and provide
sustainability to military forward operating bases for tactical purposes.
Tactical refineries are designed to address two significant problems in an overseas
crisis deployment. The first problem is access to dependable energy. Recent military
operations in Southwest Asia have shown that, despite advanced logistics and host
nation resources, access to fuel, particularly during the early months of a crisis,
can be difficult. Further, even temporary loss of access to energy during military
operations can have unacceptable consequences. The second problem is the cost
and operational difficulties for waste disposal of materials created by military
operations. Delivery of food, supplies, equipment and material to forward positions
creates huge volumes of waste, and its removal inflicts a costly and complex
logistics and security overhead on US forces.
As a simultaneous solution to both problems, deployable tactical refineries are
being designed to convert military field waste such as paper, plastic and food waste
into immediately usable energy at forward operating bases, on the battlefield or in a
crisis area. These systems are completely novel and are only becoming feasible by
taking advantage of recent advances in biotechnology and thermo-chemical science.
In addition to providing operational benefits to US Forces, these systems will pro-
vide significant cost savings by reducing the need for acquisition and distribution
of liquid fuels via convoys which are vulnerable to attack. Tactical refineries would
also serve a useful role in other military programs which support disaster relief or