Everybody who shoots has dreamed of brass which doesn’t require clean up. Soldiers and civilians spend a lot of time picking up brass and the Department of Defense has a plan that may change ammunition forever. What if it grew flowers?
The US military shoots a tons of ammunition which scatter components all over the impact area. Projectiles and components slowly degrade over centuries and may polluting ground and water sources.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has requested the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to develop “biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.”
This request is not limited to small arms, DOD wants to replace “low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds” with biodegradable alternatives. This includes cartridge cases and sabot petals, which are spread through the impact areas.
The US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) has anticipated this requirement and bioengineered seeds which will not germinate for several months, allowing time for the materials containing them to biodegrade. The seeds will grow “environmentally friendly plants that remove soil contaminants and consume the biodegradable components developed under this project. Animals should be able to consume the plants without any ill effects”.
The materials which could used to form the ammunition could be the same stuff currently used for manufacturing water bottles and plastic products.
There have been several attempts a plastic ammunition which were less than successful. Let’s wish the DOD luck, I would love to have cheap plastic ammo with disposable cases which will fill ranges with wildflowers.
Satyanarayana, Kestur G., Gregorio GC Arizaga, and Fernando Wypych. “Biodegradable composites based on lignocellulosic fibers”An overview.” Progress in polymer science 34, no. 9 (2009): 982-1021.4
Sahari, J., and S. M. Sapuan. “Natural fibre reinforced biodegradable polymer composites.” Rev. Adv. Mater. Sci 30, no. 2 (2011): 166-174
Reddy, Narendra. “A review on completely biodegradable composites developed using soy-based matrices.” Journal of Reinforced Plastics and Composites 34, no. 18 (2015): 1457-1475
Ochi, Shinji. “Tensile Properties of Bamboo Fiber Reinforced Biodegradable Plastics.” International Journal of Composite Materials, Vol. 2 No. 1, 2012, pp. 1-4. doi: 10.5923/j.cmaterials.20120201.01
Biodegradable Composites “ Research Gate https://www.researchgate.net/topic/biodegradable_composites
Mathew, Aji P., Kristiina Oksman, and Mohini Sain. “Mechanical properties of biodegradable composites from poly lactic acid (PLA) and microcrystalline cellulose (MCC).” Journal of applied polymer science 97, no. 5 (2005): 2014-2025
Image courtesy of wildflowers.com