US Military Plans To Develop Bullets That Grow Plants

The Department of Defense is trying to tackle environmental problems caused by spent bullets and casings on its firing ranges.

In an effort to create a cleaner environment, the U.S. military is hoping to create biodegradable bullets to minimize the impact empty ammunition has on the environment.

The U.S. military has requested biodegradable bullets that can be filled with seeds to help cut down on debris and actually help the environment at training facilities.

An official request sent by the Department of Defense stated, “The Department of Defense (DoD) wants to develop biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.”

This would enable wildlife to consume the plants without any ill effects. The seeds should only sprout after being in the ground for several months.

US Military

According to the department, these bullets will be helpful for several reasons, the main one being the environment. Regular bullets rust and pollute soil and water.

The military fires hundreds of thousands of rounds during training, ranging from bullets to 155mm artillery shells. While casings are collected, and often recycled, the bullets themselves generally aren't, and can take "hundreds of years" to break down in the environment. That can pollute the soil and water supply and harm animals.

The military wants the composite materials to be usable in other sectors, like construction or drink containers. For instance, spent building materials could biodegrade and become gardens, or tossed beverage cups could leave their mark as a clump of flowers.

Proposals will be considered until Feb. 8, after which a prototype will be created and tested with training ammunition. The bullets will range from 40mm to 120mm training rounds built with biodegradable composites and remediation seeds that meet all the performance requirements of existing training rounds.

However, these bullets are only meant for training and not for combat.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Athit Perawongmetha

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