Alternative Energy Sources for Heating Rations
Navy SBIR 2014.1 - Topic N141-001
MARCOR - Ms. Elizabeth Madden -
Opens: Dec 20, 2013 - Closes: Jan 22, 2014

N141-001 TITLE: Alternative Energy Sources for Heating Rations

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PM Combat Support Systems (CSS), PdM Combat Support Equipment (CSE)

OBJECTIVE: Develop an alternative method to heat rations for echelon sized units while stationary, on the move and at outlying or remote feeding sites to negate the dependence on fossil fuel technology.

DESCRIPTION: The mission of Field Feeding is clearly stated in the Marine Corps Reference Publication 4-11.8A, Marine Corps Field Feeding Program and it reads "The Marine Corps Field Feeding Program supports the Marine Air-Ground Task Force in an expeditionary environment through flexibility in feeding methods - furnishing the capability to provide Marines the right meal, at the right place, at the right time" (Ref 1-2). This is especially significant with the recent article from the CNO and CMC that articulates that the Navy Marine Corps team will develop integrated operating concepts for our forces, field them with compatible equipment, and then deploy them in innovative force packages. Currently, the Marine Corps has systems that provide 250+ meals per sitting to lower echelon sized units. The Tray Ration Heating System (TRHS) and Enhanced Tray Ration Heating System (E-TRHS) accomplish this reduced mission, but both require the use of fossil fuel as well as a power source in order to accomplish the heating of rations (Ref. 3). The current fuel requirement to operate the ration heating systems for 59 hours is 30 gallons of diesel. By eliminating the fuel component, the same 30 gallons could potentially provide 420 miles for unit mobility or could save $156 for every 59 hours of ration heating operations per company sized unit deployed or conducting field training. Ultimately, eliminating the fuel component contributes to the overall reduction of combat resupply missions and decreasing the risk of Marines being wounded or killed while conducting these missions. The potential benefits of reducing resupply missions was evident from the Logistics Casualties Study from 24 March 2010 to 30 June 2010 for Marines conducting combat logistic patrol missions in Iraq. For a period of 3 months, there were 100 resupply missions per month with 2 Marines wounded in action per month from Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks.

This topic seeks to develop innovative approaches in the application of alternative energy sources (chemical, thermal, solar, etc.) capable of heating food rations (140-180F), [Unitized Group Rations (UGR) A, B and Heat & Serve (H&S)], within the same time constraints as the TRHS and E-TRHS (Ref. 4-5). This effort alone is essential in eliminating the requirement to use fossil fuel which ultimately equates to fewer combat logistic patrols and mitigates the chances of Marines being wounded or killed while conducting resupply missions. There are existing technologies, such as solar cookers, that can accomplish the heating of rations using alternative methods; however, they only provide heating on a small order of 200 or less meals and not for multiple sittings. In order to replace the fossil fuel for fired burners and electrical heating systems, the technology must be able to demonstrate its effectiveness on a much larger scale, such as heating 250+ meals twice a day. The new technology shall have the capability to be transported, mounted and operational while on the move in all tactical cargo vehicles with minimum modification to the vehicle. The new technology shall operate in all climates and environments that may be encountered such as arctic, desert, jungle, and coastal. There shall be no operational degradation when ambient temperatures are between 125F and -25F. It must operate in all humidity levels up to 100 percent. It must be resistant to the effects of salt/water spray, and extreme sand and dust conditions to the extent outlined in MIL-STD-810G (Ref. 1, 2, 6). Small businesses should be mindful that the performance of any proposed technology solutions should match or exceed the current ration heating systems and that life-cycle costs should be maintained at the same level or lower as compared to the current systems.

PHASE I: The small business will develop concepts for an improved method to heat rations that meets the requirements described above. The small business will demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and will establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. The small business will also provide a Phase II development plan with performance goals, key technical milestones, and a technical risk reduction strategy.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for heating rations. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into an initial design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the small business will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. The small business will develop a plan to determine the effectiveness of the new method for heating rations in an operationally relevant environment. The small business will support the Marine Corps for test and validation to certify and qualify the system for Marine Corps use.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: The potential for commercial application is limited to organizations that heat previously prepared rations. U.S. Marine Corps Bases and Stations are linked to state and local disaster response organizations and this technology would benefit them in supporting displaced personnel in a larger scale natural disaster relief role.

1. Marine Corps Reference Publication 4-11.8A, Marine Corps Field Feeding Program

2. Girard, C. E. Informational Brief to R&DA. Food Service & Subsistence Program [Brief]. Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, DC.

3. Tray Ration Heating System (TRHS) and Enhanced Tray Ration Heating System (E-TRHS);

4. R. D. L. Smith, M. S. Prevot, R. D. Fagan, Z. Zhang, P. A. Sedach, M. K. J. Siu, S. Trudel, C. P. Berlinguette. Photochemical Route for Accessing Amorphous Metal Oxide Materials for Water Oxidation Catalysis. Science, 5 April, 2013; DOI: 10.1126/science.1233638.

5. V. Ramanathan and K. Balakrishan, "Reduction of Air Pollution and Global Warming by Cooking with Renewable Sources", A Controlled and Practical Experiment in Rural India White Paper, University of California, San Diego, March 5, 2007


KEYWORDS: renewable energy; alternative energy; heating rations; field feeding; heating system; fossil fuel

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