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Fighting the War on Trash

In partnership with the Office of Naval Research, Marines at Camp Smith, Hawaii are testing a trash disposal system called the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS) that can reduce a standard 50-gallon bag of waste to a half-pint jar of ash.

The unit is currently being evaluated by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MARFORPAC) as a possible solution to help Marines defeat the increasing trash at remote forward operating bases (FOB).

“Right now, there are really only two solutions: burn it or bury it,” said Lt. Col. Mike Jernigan, a Marine combat engineer. “Any potential solution must reduce the security and logistics concerns of trash disposal, and help the environment...that’s a good thing for the Marine Corps.”

MAGS has a controlled decomposition process which thermally converts energy from biomass. “The system essentially bakes the trash and recovers a high portion of combustible gas byproduct, which is used to fuel the process,” said Donn Murakami, the MARFORPAC science adviser who leads the Marine Corps’ evaluation team.

Watch a video about MAGS below.


Developed under the Environmental Quality, Discovery, and Invention program at the Office of Naval Research and in collaboration with Canada's Department of National Defense, MAGS was designed to meet the need for a compact, solid-waste disposal system for both ships and shore facilities.

The energy-efficient and clean-burning properties of MAGS make it attractive to expeditionary units. It has a low carbon footprint, and emissions are not visible, which is a tactical plus. Waste heat can also be used for practical purposes, such as heating living quarters or water.

“What we are doing for FOBs can be applied to schools, hospitals, or an office building,” Murakami said. “We are talking about disposing our waste in a different manner, rather than just sending it to the landfill.”

(Office of Naval Research)