For most of the “clean energy” startups, the big question is whether the company’s prototype will still work efficiently when scaled up to industrial proportions. But for IST Energy in Waltham, MA, the question was how to scale down a waste gasification plant until it fit inside a standard cargo container, a space roughly 30 feet by 8 feet by 8.5 feet.
That’s exactly what the startup, a new subsidiary of engineering and defense contractor InfoSciTex, has now accomplished. The company is expected to launch its “Green Energy Machine” or GEM waste-to-energy conversion system, a unit that fits on the back of a truck and can shred three tons of trash per day—including paper, plastic, wood, food, and agricultural waste—and turn it into a synthetic gas mixture which can then be used to fuel electric generators or building heating systems.
In essence, it’s a mobile version of the factory-sized gasification pilot plant. The unit takes up as much space as about three cars, and can be backed up to a building’s loading dock, or wherever its dumpsters are stowed.
The company built the Green Energy Machine in response to a request from the U.S. Army, which wants to cut down on the volume of trash, mostly from field kitchens, that it has to convoy across Iraq and Afghanistan. But GEM is also ideal for commercial and municipal facilities such as industrial plants, hospitals, universities, prisons, sports stadiums, and city waste transfer stations—”really, anybody who generates at least two tons of waste a day, which covers a huge market.”
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