The U.S. Army has requested biodegradable ammunition to be used for training exercises.
The solicitation, made via the Small Business Innovation Research program, asks for “biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.”
The Army notes that they consume hundreds of thousands of rounds for training events that may require 100 years or more to biodegrade.
The Army says that the new ammunition can reduce potential environmental hazards because current training rounds pollute and corrode soil and water.
The ammunition the DoD wants to replace with biodegradable alternatives include “low velocity 40mm grenades; 60mm, 81mm, and 120mm mortars; shoulder launched munitions; 120mm tank rounds; and 155mm artillery rounds.”
“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 Army said,
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) has already bioengineered seeds to withhold germination for several months until the new materials naturally degrade. The seeds also consume contaminants as they grow.
Once a contract is awarded to produce these bullets, the work will be divided into three phases. The first phase involves demonstrating a production process for the biodegradable materials for 40mm-120mm training rounds. In the second phase, the contractor will manufacture prototypes and perform government ballistic tests. For the final phase, the contractor will collaborate with PEO Ammunition and other ammunition contractors to establish a transition path for the technology.
Contractors have until February 8 to submit their proposals.