The US Army wants biodegradable ammunition that'll grow plants

By Shawn Knight · 21 replies
Jan 9, 2017
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  1. The Department of Defense (DoD) has put out an open call on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program website in search of proposals regarding an environmentally friendly way to deal with spent training rounds.

    In the posting, the DoD notes that the US Army manufactures and subsequently fires hundreds of thousands of training rounds at multiple ranges around the world. Such rounds range from 40mm grenades and 120mm mortars to shoulder-launched munitions and 155mm artillery rounds.

    The projectiles and sometimes even the cartridge casings are either left behind on the surface of the ground or become embedded several feet in the earth. Unfortunately, the material used to create the spent casings and projectiles can take hundreds of years (or more) to break down naturally. Some even have the potential to corrode and pollute nearby water and soil.

    As it stands today, there’s no easy way to go about finding and removing the discarded materials. Rather than create a method to clean up the mess, the DoD is looking to prevent it from being a problem altogether.

    Indeed, the DoD is seeking a solution that would replace current training ground materials with biodegradable materials that would eliminate environmental hazards. Specifically, they want a solution based on bioengineered seeds that can be embedded into biodegradable composites. Such seeds wouldn’t begin to germinate until they’ve been in the ground for several months, the post notes.

    In layman’s terms, the Army wants its spent bullets and casings to break down naturally and grow plants in the process. The DoD adds that animals should even be able to consume the plants without getting sick.

    You can learn more about the job or submit a proposal over on the SBIR program website.

    Permalink to story.

  2. No...what they want is ammunition that has a shelf-life so that they can place more control on our 2nd Amendment Rights!
  3. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    Killing the enemy and burying them creates flawless top soil and the worms help brong air into the soil.
  4. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 1,870   +1,290

    Brong it on!

    More likely that they want bullets that don't show up on metal detectors making it hard to prove it was US black ops who just took out your sleeper cell. The plant seeds are just to make the hippies feel better about war.
    Johnnyblaze1957 likes this.
  5. Kunming

    Kunming TS Maniac Posts: 308   +184

    Even the us army knows it's important to at least seed until 1.0.
    Kotters, R3DP3NGUIN, Steve and 3 others like this.

    R3DP3NGUIN TS Booster Posts: 152   +10

    I see what you did there!
  7. PinothyJ

    PinothyJ TS Guru Posts: 460   +22

    The US Army really want their enemies to be pushing up daisies.
  8. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,136   +131

    For some reason this story makes me think about Don Cheadle as Captain Planet.
  9. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,716   +3,696

    They already have biodegradable ammunition, its called "Genetically Modified Foods". It simply doesn't kill us as quickly as they had hoped.
  10. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 283   +180

  11. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,716   +3,696

    You must not be old enough to remember times they have screwed up, and after many years ban a product. It's no secret if you have an open mind to the thought that scientist are not Gods. And if you are not blind surely you can see why all the bees are dying. I'm not naive enough to think it is not doing the same to us.
  12. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    FYI: The photo used for the article is misleading. They are not looking to for ammo for guns but for the bigger toys: "These rounds include low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds."

  13. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,185   +469

    Maybe it was a test to see who read the article and who just looked at the picture. :)
    stewi0001 likes this.
  14. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    I've noticed they tend to do that XD
  15. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    Ignoring all the tinfoil hat BS floating around right now:

    Sounds like a good way to spread invasive plant species. Unless you use location-specific 'planting' ammunition, you're going to get a lot of species ending up where they didn't originally evolve.

    Putting on my own tinfoil hat: what if that is exactly the point - to spread invasive species? Might be a good way to kill entire poppy and cocaine fields if you have a plant that you know can outcompete it. Why go beyond just 'biodegradable' that only adds nutrients to the soil and not plant seeds that will germinate? They seemingly made the problem more complex than it needs to be.

    Taking my tinfoil hat back off: if they had such a plant, why use guns to plant it? There are better methods of mass planting. We've even made 'seed bombs' that get dropped from planes, to re-seed cut down portions of the rainforest.

    There is definitely more motive here than 'protect our training' grounds going on, but I doubt we'll ever know.
  16. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 452   +180

    Make the shell casings magnetic. Then fly slowly over the training grounds with a giant magnet. Just be careful of unexploded ordninance.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    Bullets that create life.... That's a new one. The government is always looking for ways to waste our tax money it seems.
  18. Yynxs

    Yynxs TS Addict Posts: 202   +70

    /sigh. I notice no one is asking the obvious. Can something like this be done with current technology?

    Aside from that. Everything we kill people with poisons the Earth around them. Here, just practicing to kill people poisons vast swathes of countryside that, if another Obama clone comes in, could be designated a park. Can you imagine the uproar if Jane Public took the kid to the park and after walking around found him chewing on chunk of lead ordinance. My gawd, there would be no way to blame Democrats.

    In other news: (Frontiers of Biology in China June 2009, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 200–206) Cadmium and copper uptake and accumulation by Sesbania rostrata seedling, a N-fixing annual plant: implications for the mechanism of heavy metal tolerance.

    We're obviously getting behind in the Green Race.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    It is quite a challenge this... I think it is a waste of money though because I just don't see essentially organic plastic providing reliable operation in a firearm. We just need our laser rifles already...

    And not everything we kill people with poisons the Earth. A blade or just blunt force trauma don't have any effect on the Earth. There is your Green Killing.
  20. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 283   +180

    Damn dude, you woke as ****.
  21. Yynxs

    Yynxs TS Addict Posts: 202   +70

    Unfortunately, that is not the organized military against military way of the training of killing 'people', ie: plural; the subject of the current discussion. Those are trained because, a blade and blunt force trauma from a hand held object is what you do when planning, logistics, implementation, and execution have failed and you have become isolated from your unit and cannot scavenge more supplies from the battlefield and you're still trying to complete a mission. They are only 'green' because your shorts are full of fertilizer at that point.
  22. 3volv3d

    3volv3d TS Addict Posts: 155   +59

    Message from the future just in:

    They say he was the first of his kind, the first man to be shot by one of these bullets, they asked him all kinds of questions, like how, why, where? But all he could say was...

    "I am Groot!"

    So it begins.

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