Naturally occurring bacteria used to convert biomass into hydrocarbons.

The Army is moving forward with plans to turn biodegradable waste into oil in an effort to improve the environment and reduce its dependency on fossil fuels.

As WND reported, Bell BioEnergy Inc. of Tifton, Ga., has teamed up with the federal government, hoping to make millions of barrels of oil every day from virtually anything that grows out of the Earth. The Army has also partnered with the Defense Energy Support Center, or DESC, to begin testing sites at six installations and one Defense Logistics Agency site.

Paul Bollinger, deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Energy and Partnerships, said the goal of the project is to determine whether biowaste can be converted into diesel fuel to meet the Army’s energy needs.

“The ability to turn biodegradable waste into fuel has the potential to significantly reduce the Army’s logistical footprint,” he said in a Bell BioEnergy statement. “By reducing our energy requirements at installations or Forward Operating Bases, we will enhance our energy security and make the Army more expeditionary. That’s exactly what the Army requires to prevail in 21st century conflicts.”

Each of the testing units is equipped to create unique hydrocarbon strands by decomposing biowaste such as food leftovers and grass clippings with bacteria. The process releases oil, which the group plans to convert into diesel fuel for vehicle engines.

J.C. Bell, the man behind the project, previously told WND, “[W]e will start manufacturing oil directly from waste and we will build up to about 500,000 barrels a day within two years. In another six months, we’ll reach a million barrels a day.”

Bell said the return – even if the oil were sold for $70 a barrel – would be significant.

“It will feel very, very good to be to the point where we finally turn off the spigot from overseas,” he said.

DESC Director Kim Huntley said the project is also step toward an environmentally friendly military.

“The Department of Defense is committed to reducing the U.S. military’s dependence on fossil fuels and reducing our operational footprint in the environment,” she said in a statement. “This prototype project is an important step to achieving this goal. This shows that the Department of Defense is committed to pushing the frontiers of science to ensure energy security for our military and a clean environment for our country and, indeed, the world.”

Each site will be equipped with 45-foot trailers, 10 reactor units, 10 fuel receivers and a control office to record input and output data. DESC and BioEnergy will perform tests for a full year to determine whether the diesel fuel can be used.

The Army will be compensated for electricity and water charges, and it will provide biowaste for the mission.

“Ultimately, the biomass units will allow us to reduce what goes into our landfill, reduce greenhouse gases and, most importantly, reduce our operational footprint in the environment,” Huntley said.

The first testing unit is scheduled for October construction at Fort Stewart, Ga. Other units will follow at Fort A.P. Hill, Va., Fort Bragg, N.C., Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Lewis, Wash., Fort Drum, N.Y. and at the Defense Fuel Support Point in San Pedro, Calif.

“There are, necessarily, calculated risks when developing any new technology,” Huntley said. “But it is through these types of forward-looking initiatives and calculated risks that great discoveries are made and progress is achieved. We owe it to our environment, our military forces, and future generations to keep moving forward in these efforts.”

 

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