The three researchers worked at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, in 1995 when they were issued U.S. patent 5,411,697 for their Method for Processing Contaminated Plastic Waste. Their work was part of the Navy's Pollution Prevention Afloat program to provide cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions to comply with U.S. laws, including individual state laws, and international treaties.
This patent was key to the development of the Plastics Waste Processor, which was developed according to a Congressional mandate. The processor shreds the plastic into small chips, and then a separate unit melts, sanitizes and compresses the plastic waste into a sanitary disk, weighing approximately 15 pounds, which can be retained on board until a ship returns to port. More than 650 of these devices have been installed on 189 U.S. Navy ships spanning 27 ship classes. Without this capability, ships would have to find storage space (on the order of 1,000 cubic yards every 30 days for an aircraft carrier) to retain food-contaminated waste such as packaging material from the galley.
Ships receive one or more of the units, depending on the amount of waste expected during a mission. The modular approach allowed for standardization across ship classes and simplified fleet-wide installation. The Canadian and Australian navies have also adopted the device and it is now being considered by the cruise ship industry and Dutch navy.
This award is named in honor of Vice Admiral Harold G. Bowen who was the first Chief of Naval Research. He was resp
Contact: Jennifer Huergo
Office of Naval Research