The US Army wants biodegradable bullets that grow plants

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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

  • Every year armies around the world use millions of rounds of ammunition during training exercises but these can cause a trail of environmental devastation which takes generations to recover from, the US Army want to create a new legacy


 

Not only are bullets a physical hazard, but they’re an environmental hazard, too. At US Army training facilities around the world, hundreds of thousands of spent shells litter proving grounds. Because there is no efficient way to clean up the shells, they’re left where they fall.

But that’s a problem. The shells, which contain metal and other chemicals, can rust and pollute soils and groundwater , and now the US DoD wants to do something about it so they’re soliciting proposals for biodegradable bullets “loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.”

 

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The materials best suited for these bullets could include the same biodegradable plastics used to make water bottles or plastic containers, or it could end up being some different material altogether.

According to the request for proposal, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory has already developed and tested seeds that can be embedded into a biodegradable composite. They’ve been bioengineered to germinate only after they’ve been in the ground for several months.

The proposals are being solicited until February 8, after which time, the chosen contractors will produce the biodegradable bullets as part of a three phase process. In Phase 1, the contractor will focus on making 40 mm to 120 mm training rounds, Phase 2 includes developing a prototype and the means to manufacture it and Phase 3 has the biodegradable round being deployed and used at the Army training facilities.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, award winning Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute, a global futures think tank, is described as "The Adviser behind the Advisers." Regularly featured on AP, CNBC, Discovery and RT, his ability to identify and track hundreds of game changing emerging technologies, and explain their impact on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past five years running as one of the world's foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive future. A rare talent Matthew sits on the Technology and Innovation Committee (TIAC) for Centrica, one of Europe’s largest energy companies, and his recent work includes mentoring XPRIZE teams, building the first generation of biocomputers, helping the world’s largest manufacturers companies envision the next five generations of smartphones and devices, and what comes next, and helping companies including Qualcomm envision the next twenty years of semiconductors. Matthew's clients are the who’s who of industry and include Accenture, Bain & Co, BOA, Blackrock, Bloomberg, Booz Allen Hamilton, BCG, Bentley, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey, Monsanto, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder's, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK's HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.

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