Perhaps more than anyone else the military directly knows the importance of energy supply and waste disposal in day-to-day operations. Both are critical components of any operation. Now, the US Marines, in partnership of the Office of Naval Research are developing a novel way of dealing with the waste generated at forward operating bases.
Being tested at Camp Smith in Hawaii is what's been dubbed MAGS, the Micro Auto Gasification System — though as you can tell from the video 'micro' is a relative term. It can take a 50-gallon bag of waste weighing 100 pounds and gasify it into a half-pint jar of ash. Glass and metal waste is left intact during the pyrolysis, and can be recycled. The whole procedure takes two hours.In the video above and in their promo of text for MAGS, the ash is described as harmless (and even suitable for gardens, the video notes) — but it seems that if there are strong enough toxins in the waste itself they may not be removed by the gasification procedure.
Even if that's the case, the technology involved is pretty interesting. Particularly this bit: Some of the gas byproduct generated in the process is funneled back into the system to make it more energy efficient. On a tactical level, the unit also produces no visible emissions, an obvious advantage over simply burning waste.