SUNY Cobleskill invents new technology for the military

February 24, 2014

Time Warner Cable News

Watch video

by Barry Wygel

COBLESKILL, N.Y. — Engineers at SUNY Cobleskill are on the front line helping the military deal with the extreme conditions that soldiers face on the battlefield. 

“We have waste problems in our deployed army, and we have fuel problems, an energy need in our deployed army,” said Col. Russ LaChance, a professor at West Point.

Where there is a problem, there is usually a solution. The solution to this problem is being solved at SUNY Cobleskill.
“The best analogy I know is when you are sitting around a campfire, if you look at the flame in the campfire if you look immediately above the wood, there is a little bit of gas above. We’re collecting that gas, and we’re running that through a diesel engine, which is connected to a generator,” said Paul Amodeo, principal investigator for the gas fire project.

This machine represents the older version of the gasification technology. The machine only operates with certain types of garbage that contain no moisture, but SUNY Cobleskill engineers found a way to overcome those challenges. 

“We have a rotary system we have been working with and we have been able to resolve both of those issues,” said Amodeo.
The new technology gave birth to this machine. The machine takes any garbage, whether organic or plastic and outputs electrical energy, enough to provide power to an army unit working in the field.

“I love this project. I think the future leaders of the Army. These cadets love this project because it really hits home for them,” said LaChance.

If everything goes according to plan, and the tests are as successful as they have been, these machines could be on the front lines in just a couple of years, saving not only energy, but American lives as well.

“In the battle zones, two of the places where they very lose the most people are on both garbage runs and fuel runs. So this basically helps them cut down substantially on both,” said Amodeo.

Once the machines are battle ready, engineers will begin working on adapting the technology for domestic use as well.
“I think it’s promising. It’s a really innovative idea,” said LaChance.