U.S. Navy Aviation Ordnanceman Seaman Kenneth R. Mack, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), breaks .50-caliber ammunition chains into 20-round lengths for use during a training exercise aboard the ship while under way in the Sea of Japan Sept. 2, 2010. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Casey H. Kyhl, U.S. Navy/Released)

Defense Department Looking for New Bullets… That Plant Seeds

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is asking for proposals for manufacturing bullets—that will plant seeds.

The call for proposals went out Nov. 30 from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) agency. Essentially, the DoD is looking for biodegradable bullets and other ammunition rounds that contain seeds.

While the idea may sound like environmental extremism run amok, there is a good reason for the request.

Military training facilities would use the new bullet design. Hundreds of thousands of rounds are used at these training grounds. So many that they are left on the ground because there is no efficient way to retrieve them.

The rounds currently used can take hundreds of years to degrade and the casings pose an environmental risk.

Biodegradable materials, such as bamboo fibers, are hoped to eliminate the environmental concerns. These concerns include contaminates leeching into the water supply or being consumed by animals.

Additionally, the DoD wants seeds embedded in the material. The seeds sought should not germinate for several months after reaching the ground.

The seeds will consume the biodegradable material as they grow, and the plants should be safe for animals.

The call for proposals ends Feb. 8. Then, it remains to be seen if biodegradable bullets with seeds can be achieved.