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Natural Solutions For Air ForcesNatural Technology For InnovationEasy & Effective MethodsIncreasing Energy AvailabilityLess Pollution & More EnergyFighting Toxic ChemicalsFor All Aircraft TypesSolutions For Critical AreasWorking With Local ToolsWorking Together For SuccessMore Sustainable Air Forces


FlyErG: Special Energy Supply & Cleanup for Air Force Bases

The program is aimed at boosting energy generation within Air Force bases through the natural remediation of pollutants found inside.

This program is made by a complex framework, that involves all vehicles, buildings, storage facilities and the personnel (civilians as well).

Air Force bases, especially those located on hard to reach areas of the planet, must exploit locally available resources in a more sustainable way. This is not only good for the mission, but also and even more for making a positive impact to the affected area.

But, why Air Force bases? Simply because since 90s, the example of natural decontamination through composting which took place @ John Seymour Base (Goldsboro, NC) has been a guiding light to make the whole military sector more sustainable.

Now, after many years, we can apply much more natural technologies and solutions to deal with even more complex issues. Air Force bases are the best application field for such natural technologies, due to the presence of very specific chemicals and a high energy demand.

This very special project focuses the attention of the following fields: water cleanup (before and after bombing), building collapse (after bombing), vehicles, vegetation, natural remediation of harmful chemicals inside (and spreading outside) the facility.


Water cleanup – natural solutions for Air Force bases and communities

This part of the project is aimed at improving water quality for human consumption, as well as for wastewater. This does mean that some cleanup solutions are integrated within the facility, in order to cut costs and make cleaner water available to the people. This is particularly valid for communities affected by military operations.

Some highly available resources are collected and applied in order to remove chemicals from the water. This applies to:

  • rain water
  • drinking water supplies
  • wastewater (from residential units)
  • effluents (from battlefields)
  • unexpected releases (of pollutants from mechanical facilities and manufacturing)
  • storm-water runoff
  • waterways (running across or near the Air Force Base)
  • coastal areas (only in highly selected cases)
  • flooded waters

According to the chance of using natural and locally available resource, cleanup is made with:

  • fruit parts
  • seeds
  • tree parts
  • activated carbons (obtained from natural materials)
  • aquatic plants (native of the affected area)
  • compost (great for storm-water runoff and some highly selected chemicals & compounds)
  • algae (if available they must be chosen because of their high energy potential)

These are just some of the natural solutions can be applied, by following two strict rules:

  1. The application of a solution does not need external energy to carry out the process
  2. The application of the same solution allows to recover energy before, during or after the remediation process

The 2nd rule may be quite “flexible”; when pollution issues to treat are tremendously serious we must focus the attention on removing chemicals, even though selected solutions do not ensure the generation of significant amount of new energy.


Building collapse – an effective strategy to help the rehab phase

This part of the project is aimed at recycling debris and construction materials after collapse. A very special feature to boost the rehab phase after bombing, that makes available new raw materials to the affected community.

Two are the main lines of intervention:

  1. Collection of debris and reconstruction of “quick temporary facilities” (QTFs)
  2. Generation of new energy (mostly) from composting of C&D (construction % demolition) waste

About the 1), such QTFs are built through recycling of debris and collapsed materials, in the shortest time. QTFs host some essential activities for boosting the rehab phase after bombing:

  • food growing (native vegetables)
  • water decontamination units (with some of above mentioned natural solutions)
  • traditional medicine gardens (to improve the availability of natural healing principles)
  • small items manufacturing (debris are also a raw material for manufacturing objects to sell)
  • sheltering (only under highly selected circumstances)

These QTFs are built with the help of military & security personnel; at least one of each different QTF types listed above should be built depending on the extension of the affected area.

About the 2), C&D waste are a valuable addition to composting process. They are able to improve the quality of the final product (so that ot can be spread on the ground to push further the productivity of the soil).

In addition, composting generates energy and depending on the case, there are two chances:

  1. Aerobic process (it generates thermal energy, heat)
  2. Anaerobic process (it generates biogas)

Depending on needs, several other additions to the composting process may be taken into consideration. The final result is: less pollution and bulky waste after bombings, more energy and a faster rehab for the affected community.


Vehicles – natural remediation of fuels and special attention to aircrafts

This part of the project is aimed at performing a good cleanup of diesel oil, fuel oil, motor oil, jet fuel and more in general all exhausts can be found on the ground as well as in waters.

Interestingly, some energy can be obtained by the process, when some pollutants are involved. That’s the case of diesel oil, can be very effectively treated with food waste compost.

The framework to follow is:

  1. Identification of what pollutants and their contamination levels are
  2. Assessment of potential for contamination to spread across the facility and outside
  3. Assessment of the most effective natural solutions to remove such pollutants (preference for composting)
  4. Database list of all waste products can be applied to achieve the goal
  5. Creation of dedicated decontamination chambers (for off-site treatments)
  6. Identification of areas can be treated on-site (ex. with bacteria or nutrients)
  7. Application of the treatment and monitoring all over the process

Food waste likely is the most effective natural tool to consider for the purpose, although other solutions can be put into the practice.

For what concerns more specific pollution issues, we have to include the following:

  • diesel oil, fuel oil, motor oil, jet oil
  • tires and rubber components (to be addressed with very special measures)
  • metals (many chemicals)
  • other vehicles – related materials (like wreckage, glasses, batteries, electrical parts)

This framework only addresses contaminated soils, inside and outside the facility, although also water can be contaminated. However, solutions presented in the 1st paragraph of this special project allow to achieve great results.


Vegetation – a natural barrier to prevent contamination spread

This part of the project is aimed at preventing contamination spread outside the facility or the target of military & security missions abroad.

A very specific feature, made possible by the application of several hyper-accumulator plants all around the limit of the facility (or the area of interest for the mission). Hyper-accumulator does mean plants able to concentrate and uptake high loads of chemicals when growing on a contaminated area.

This special projects however considers also another category of very useful vegetables and plants. They are called “excluder plants”, because able to grown on contaminated lands without adsorbing pollutants. In other words, they may be cultivated in spite of the presence of some dangerous chemicals on the ground.

The mixing of these two plant categories, depending on the final goal, the specific area and the potentially affected population (including military & security personnel), is the proposed solution.

The framework to follow is:

  1. Identification of pollution potentially caused by weapons and ammos
  2. Identification (accurate estimate) of most likely lines of dispersion of pollutants into the environment after their release as a consequence of use (tracking is also possible, as well as the expected behavior through a computing simulation)
  3. Assessment of climate conditions and previous pollution may be be detected all over the area
  4. Identification of native plant species that may serve to the purpose of removing pollution
  5. Identification of excluder plants may be suggested to communities in order to avoid at best the contamination risk
  6. Arrangement of selected plants in order to setup a natural barrier against the contamination spread
  7. Monitoring over time and optimization of the process

This framework mostly addresses pollutants fallen on the ground, while for dusts things needs to be more complicated. In this case, some useful biofilters made by compost can be adopted. However, the most concerning pollution issue is the long lasting presence of many dangerous chemicals on the ground and in water, so the creation of some natural barriers, if well done, prevent the contamination spread  very well.


Natural remediation of weapons – for the everyday practice

This part of the project is aimed at removing (if possible degrading) pollutants left by weapons on the ground (mostly) and in water.

In addition, the projects features some special treatments for other very serious pollutants, like flame retardants, complex hydrocarbons (halogenated and chlorinated PAHs), PFAS, PFOA, dioxin, PCBs and more.

Depending on the specific pollution profile can be found on the ground (or in water), as a consequence of the weapons use, a dedicated action of remediation is carried out.

Methods may vary a lot, so it’s not possible to setup a remediation scheme. What we can say right now is that the following opportunities are taken into the greatest consideration:

  • composting (especially good for some explosives)
  • special compost filters (they can work well to stop contamination by some dangerous chemicals possibly present on the ground
  • mushrooms (very good for dioxin, PCBs and some among the most hard to teat compounds)
  • sugar or alcohols (more in general reducing agents, when dealing with the presence of serious contamination by chromium VI, a proven carcinogenic)
  • biomasses (especially to remove some pollutants from the water)

These solutions may be applied at the same time in different sites within the same Air Force Base. Moreover, it’s also possible to extend the work outside the military area, to involve the people.

This framework envisages the collection of most proper waste and raw materials to address the issue. So, a good cooperation between military / security personnel and surrounding communities may be of great help to make the process faster and potentially even ore effective.

The final goal is to generate more energy and make it available for additional needs. This is possible when composting is applied, so the remediation of explosives and ammos has a great potential.

No energy can be generated when reducing agents are applied, while the use of spent biomasses (after application) may become a very good way for energy supply.

Mushrooms case is very specific: if applied as they are to soak up pollution, the potential for energy generation on a military / security area is low. However, if a byproduct of mushroom industry is applied, namely SMC (spent mushroom compost), some energy can be available under some circumstances.


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