Science

Our Troops Need Turd-Powered Nuclear Reactors

This is not an April Fools’ post. This is a serious post about DARPA, the military’s experimental research arm, and how they want to explore human waste as a fuel source for portable nuclear reactors on overseas military bases. Seriously.

DARPA’s recent Request For Information seeks a method to “enable the development of deployable nuclear reactor technologies for the generation of electrical power and military logistic fuels (JP-8) in forward land based and maritime military operations.” The technical approaches they cite as feasible include water/seawater, biomass, waste materials.

The most obvious place to look for the latter? The ample human waste generated by soldiers. As Wired points out:

The military’s already working on using seawater to create fuel, but that’s more of an option for maritime operations. Without an endless supply of seawater, they’d need an alternative carbon source. Enter the massive quantities of sludge that inevitably accumulate around troop outposts. It’s been a problem for decades, according to environmental management expert Dr. James Lee. In an article for the Army’s Engineer School, he writes that the military spent upwards of $US65,000 in annual fuel costs just to burn off human refuse at base camp in the Balkans.

So by using that waste as a fuel source instead of burning it off, everybody wins!

DARPA’s accepting submissions until April 30th, so if you’ve got a fool-proof method for poop-fueled portable nuclear generators, it’s time to put it to good use. [Wired]


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