And they shall beat their bullets into seedlings: That's the U.S. military's new ambition

biodegradable bullets grow trees matrix
The environment may have just found a new ally — the Department of Defense. While you may not think of firearms as particularly life producing devices, the DoD is hoping that could soon change.

Late last year, the government agency sent out a call for proposals looking for biodegradable bullets that contain seeds. That’s right — the trees of the future could come from guns.

As per the request, “Currently the U.S. Army manufactures and consumes hundreds of thousands of training rounds.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of these rounds can take “hundreds of years or more” to degrade, which, needless to say, is no good for the environment. They can pollute water supplies, be hazardous to animals, and otherwise cause problems for the planet.

So to address this problem, the DoD is hoping to “develop biodegradable training ammunition loaded with specialized seeds to grow environmentally beneficial plants that eliminate ammunition debris and contaminants.” Whatever advances come out of this research, the Department notes, could also be used in manufacturing other commonly used products, including water bottles, plastic containers, and more.

Already, there exists research from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory that demonstrates “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.” What’s left to do then is to actually contract a company that can produce new training rounds to house these seeds.

Interested parties have until February 8 to submit their proposals, whereupon we will see if the Department of Defense will be able to make good on its goal of creating environmentally friendly bullets.

Sometimes, the unlikeliest of partnerships make for the most incredible innovations.

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