The Armed Forces are going green.
The Army and Air Force are developing technology to turn trash into gas — and therefore cash — for the Department of Defense, the largest consumer of energy in the
According to Pentagon figures, the Defense Department spent $13.6 billion for energy in 2006. It uses 340,000 barrels of oil a day, or 1.5 percent of the total energy consumed in the
Pentagon officials consider that dependency on oil — much of it produced abroad — not only a huge expense, but a national security risk as well.
The Armed Forces use 1.2 million barrels of oil each month in
In December 2005, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld directed his department to “do all it can” to save energy. He set up a task force headed by his deputy, Gordon
The Air Force took the lead, winning an Environmental Protection Agency “Green Power” award in 2006 as one of the top 25 purchasers of green power.
It has since won four more energy awards, and is now the leading purchaser and user of wind energy in the
Nellis Air Force Base in
Dyess, Minot, and Fairchild Air Force bases purchase 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources of energy.
Airmen and their families have been using biomass fuel at Hill Air Force Base in
But saving money isn't the only reason for going green. Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer noted that 70 percent of
Defense Life Sciences, based in
Organic garbage is fed into a reactor, in which it is fermented into ethanol. Then plastic, cardboard and other paper items are burned to create propane or methane. These elements are then combusted in a modified diesel engine to power a 60 kilowatt generator.
The prototype costs $1 million and is now ready to be tested in a war zone.