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Tactical Garbage to Ethanol Refinery (TGER) for U. S. Army

Dealing with food and other wastes as well as generating electrical power are two important challenges for people living and working in remote locations. The Tactical Garbage to Ethanol Refinery (TGER - pronounced "tiger") is one possible solution that tackles both challenges simultaneously. In partnership with industry (Defense Life Sciences, LLC and Community Power Corporation), LORRE designed a hybrid gasification and fermentation biorefinery that converts food, paper, cardboard, and plastics into biofuels. The food is converted to ethanol by way of enzymes and yeast. The other organic materials are converted to producer gas (low molecular weight hydrocarbons) by way of gasification. Both biofuels power a modified diesel generator. The whole biorefinery is built to slide into a standard shipping container for movement anywhere a truck or plane can haul it. When in place, the TGER slides out and auxiliary equipment for processing the incoming waste is set up alongside. Each day, the TGER processes 2,000 pounds of waste while continuously generating 60 kW of electricity. About 30% of the electricity produced is used to process the waste, while the rest is available for any other use.

The first two prototypes, built at Purdue, spent three months in field testing in Iraq during the summer of 2008. LORRE scientists and engineers continue working with Defense Life Sciences, who is commercializing the technology, to make improvements to performance and reliability. A picture of the TGER is below.

Picture of the TGER Prototype

Biochip - Foodborne Pathogen Detection

Protecting consumers from foodborne illness is an important health concern facing the food industry. An important deficiency exposed by foodborne illness is the inability to track contaminated food back to the source in a timely manner. Although there are established methods that detect bacterial pathogen contamination, they are limited in distinguishing viable bacteria quickly.

Currently, food pathogen testing requires lengthy culture steps, which many times are delayed even longer due to the lack of in-house testing labs. Typically, 2-3 days elapses between when the food is sampled and the test results are available. This delay is challenging since some foods are consumed before test results become readily available. The focus of ongoing research in LORRE is to use microfiltration to rapidly concentrate organisms, thereby eliminating the culture steps and enabling rapid probing of extract from food or water samples for the presence of pathogens. The system used to detect foodborne pathogens is pictured below.

The Bowen Turbotester

The Bowen Turbotester is a pre-pilot scale liquid hot water pretreatment reactor that is operable in batch mode. The system successfully pretreats maple, poplar, switchgrass, corn stover, bagasse, distillers' grains, beer solids, and silage at slurries between 15-45% solids. LORRE researchers collaborated with three companies, Celsys, Bowen Engineering, and Mascoma Corporation, in the design and fabrication of the turbotester.