Waste Reduction and Treatment in DoD Operations

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The manufacture, maintenance, and use of military weapons systems and platforms generate significant amounts of both hazardous and solid waste, some of which requires expensive treatment and disposal. SERDP and ESTCP areas of investment include:

Shipboard Wastewater Treatment

Navy ships generate a variety of wastes, including bilge water containing oil, blackwater, graywater, shipboard “industrial” waste, and solid residuals from existing treatment systems. The need for shipboard wastewater treatment for military vessels is driven by existing and anticipated regulations. The Clean Water Act of 1977 prohibits the discharge of untreated sewage in restricted waters. The Uniform National Discharge Standards (UNDS) will require implementation of marine pollution control devices to control graywater discharges. In addition, UNDS will limit the oil content of liquid discharges to be no greater that 15 parts-per-million. Where regulations cannot be met, holding tanks are used to store certain types of wastewater until it can be transferred to an in-port facility. With impending changes in regulations, the traditional holding capacity may no longer be adequate, resulting in restriction of operations in littoral waters which are important to the U.S. Navy. SERDP and ESTCP projects are developing new shipboard treatment systems that will meet current and anticipated regulations, resulting in more mission flexibility, a reduction in disposal costs, and a reduction in security risks in foreign ports.

Deicing and Anti-Icing Technologies

To operate in sub-freezing temperatures and in adverse weather conditions, DoD aircraft and runways must be free of ice. Deicing agents are used to remove ice from aircraft and runways and anti-icing agents are used to prevent ice from forming. Current water-soluble aircraft deicing and anti-icing agents exert a very high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) on stormwater runoff. This runoff is expensive to treat at wastewater treatment facilities and it can harm ecosystems if not properly contained. Many current in-service runway deicing agents are harmful to the environment and corrosive to components of aircraft and support vehicles. SERDP and ESTCP projects worked to develop and demonstrate deicing and anti-icing agents that meet critical performance requirements while reducing the burden on the environment.

Treatment of Wastes from Manufacturing and Maintenance 

The manufacture and maintenance of military weapons systems require the use of large quantities of coatings, sealants, solvents, and other materials, many of which contain hazardous chemicals or produce emissions that are harmful to human health. Many of the materials are only partially used or extend beyond their shelf life, resulting in substantial amounts of hazardous waste. SERDP and ESTCP projects are developing effective technologies to treat this type of hazardous waste, converting it to more benign forms and therefore reducing the cost of disposal.

Solid Waste Reduction in Forward Operating Bases 

The sustainability of forward operating bases at locations around the world is critical for military effectiveness. The logistics burden and environmental impacts of dealing with solid waste is both a significant cost and security issue. SERDP and ESTCP projects are developing and demonstrating new materials and designs to reduce the logistics and environmental burdens due to solid waste generated during expeditionary operations and on non-permanent installations.

Historically, SERDP and ESTCP have invested in what are called “end-of-pipe” solutions involving development of methods to modify or treat wastes to make them more benign, resulting in less impact on the environment and reduced costs. In recent years, however, research has focused primarily on developing “upstream” solutions through the development of alternative materials and processes associated with manufacturing and maintenance that generate less overall waste while maintaining required performance. Descriptions of that type of research can be found under other sub-program areas. For example, development of new coating technologies that reduce hazardous waste generation is covered under Surface Engineering and Structural Materials; development of new energetic materials that result in less toxic waste is covered under Energetic Materials and Munitions.

FY 2017 New Start Project Selections

FY 2018 New Start Project Selections for the Environmental Solicitation – SERDP; ESTCP

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