WEST POINT, N.Y. (May 10, 2012) -- The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installation, Energy and Environment made a special trip to West Point May 3 to hear what cadets had to say about the Army's Net Zero Energy initiative.

The Honorable Katherine Hammack toured the campus during Projects Day at West Point, where hundreds of cadets brief, demonstrate and display a vast range of intellectual capital through a showcase of projects and presentations.

Her itinerary included several briefing of Net Zero Energy projects, to include research on several pilot installations for this program, including West Point. The first of several briefings she attended began with a team of cadets explaining the Generator Waste-Heat Take-Off System.

Ask any Soldier in the field what a hot shower can do to raise troop morale, especially in places where such simple luxuries are scarce. This cadet team presented a low cost, environmentally sound solution to this problem; one which could have a huge impact with a minimal logistical footprint in the future. The project illustrates how a 5 kilowatt generator could save 1,500 to 3,500 gallons of fuel annually while providing Soldier comfort through 50 to 100 hot showers to a company of Soldiers daily.

This project, from Class of 2012 Cadets Jacob Baxter, Luke Grant, Isaac Melnick and Jake Young, earned first place among four West Point teams at the inaugural Rapid Equipping Force Grand Challenge. The winners were announced by Col. Steve Bristow, REF project manager, May 7 following presentations and judging.

Outside the newly-constructed Science Center in Bartlett Hall, Hammack saw the gasification project, an Army-funded collaboration between West Point and SUNY Cobleskill. The project investigates waste-to-energy gasification technologies both for applications on forward operating bases and installations. Gasification attempts to convert the waste feed to a combustible gas that can run a generator or create steam to provide energy. Engineers at SUNY Cobleskill built a portable WTE gasifier trailer that can power an 18 kilowatt generator on waste. West Point cadets and faculty will operate this gasifier trailer and conduct experiments with it to further study this technology. A similar trailer is being sent to SOUTHCOM to be part of engagement operations in Central and South America.

"The cadets have done a fantastic job of embracing the study of reducing our energy footprint," Lt. Col. Russell Lachance, academy professor and acting deputy head in the Department of Chemistry and Life Science, said. "The Army will benefit from their work in several different ways ranging from a behavior change marketing campaign to net zero energy recommendations at our training camps to extracting waste heat from our Army generators."