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DoD Wants To Go Green With BioBullets That Can Plant Seeds

BioBullet (Depiction)

The news will probably raise a few eyebrows, but it the Department of Defense (DoD) is serious about this. It wants environment friendly bullets that not only degrade after use, but will be able to plant seeds that will grow and replace the foliage destroyed during exercise. Call it “biobullet” if you want, but it is an idea that environment conscious individuals should welcome.

It is a ironic that a military organization, not known for its efforts for a cleaner and greener environment, is pushing for this. But the DoD deems climate change to be a security threat and there are efforts amongst the military branches to do their bit in helping the environment, from use of biofuels to renewable energy.

In a posting at the Small Business Innovation Research website, the DoD is calling for “Biodegradable Composites with Embedded Seeds for Training Ammunition” with submissions due on the 8th of February 2017 and here is description:

Currently the US Army manufactures and consumes hundreds of thousands of training rounds. These rounds are fired at proving grounds and training ranges in the United States and around the world. In addition, special forces conduct day and night training exercises utilizing these training rounds. These rounds include low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds. The projectiles, and in some circumstances the cartridge cases and sabot petals, are either left on the ground surface or several feet underground at the proving ground or tactical range. Components of current training rounds require hundreds of years or more to biodegrade. Further, civilians (e.g., farmers or construction crews) encountering these rounds and components do not know if they are training or tactical rounds. Proving grounds and battle grounds have no clear way of finding and eliminating these training projectiles, cartridge cases and sabot petals, especially those that are buried several feet in the ground. Some of these rounds might have the potential corrode and pollute the soil and nearby water. The solution sought by this topic is naturally occurring biodegradable material to replace the current training round materials, eliminating environmental hazards. This SBIR will prove out the technology and replace current training round components with biodegradable parts. The biodegradable materials identified can be utilized by private industry to manufacture biodegradable water bottles, plastic containers, or any other composite or plastic product(s) on the market today. The US Army Corps of Engineers' Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) has demonstrated bioengineered seeds that can be embedded into the biodegradable composites and that will not germinate until they have been in the ground for several months. This SBIR effort will make use of seeds to 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.

It is indeed a good case to make environment friendly training ammunition, especially when training on one’s own soil, with the aim of being able to remove soil contaminants and that animals will be able to consume such plants without experiencing side effects. Since it has been proven by the CRREL that is possible to embed bioengineered seeds for such purposes, it is now just a matter of having the biodegradable munitions to carry that payload.

This is a good idea for airsoft event organizers who want to have a green credential in their events. There are now biodegradable BBs or “BioBBs” that are in use and many airsoft manufacturers are offering such. Now, if there is a bioengineered seed that can be embedded in these “BioBBs” that will then germinate upon contact to the ground when released by the degraded BB, then airsoft players will be able to say that their sport or hobby is environment friendly.

It may cost a bit more than the usual Biodegrable BBs, but would airsoft players mind to pay a bit more just to help the environment? What do you think?