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Future Warfighters to Get Water by Burning Diesel Fuel

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 24, 2002 – Within the next five to 10 years, troops will be able to sit in their combat vehicles, make water by burning diesel fuel and use that water to reconstitute their food.

The Army's Natick Soldier Center, in Natick, Mass., is working with the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, in Warren, Mich., to develop feeding systems compatible with the Future Combat Vehicle, which is due to be fielded within a decade.

A key component of the new feeding system is a process to produce water as a byproduct of burning diesel fuel. "We will actually extract water from diesel fuel as it's combusted, filter it, and then provide water to the combat vehicle crewmen," said Gerald Darsch, a project director with the Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command at Natick.

Reducing logistics requirements is a key priority in developing the new system, Darsch explained. He called water "a logistical nightmare" on the battlefield because it weighs 8.2 pounds per gallon and takes a lot of room to transport.

"So if we can generate water on the battlefield, it's a good thing in terms of reducing the logistics pipeline," he said. To further reduce cargo requirements, food can be dried and compressed under pressure.

Darsch admitted such food is "not a pretty sight," but added, "Once we reconstitute that it will taste almost identical to a product you would prepare in your own kitchen."

He explained the military has worked hard to improve the food it gives to its warfighters. ""We have eliminated all the mystery meats. All the no-name casseroles are gone," Darsch said. "We now have a customer-driven, customer- focused, product improvement program."

He noted that the traditional meals, ready-to-eat, have increased from 12 to 24 separate menus, all of them tested by service members in the field.

"The bottom line for all of our combat-ration improvements is they are warrior-recommended, warrior-tested and warrior-approved," he said.


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Click photo for screen-resolution imageBon Appetite: Defense reporters sample newly-developed food to be served to servicemembers. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA.  
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