In the most remote and extreme environments on the globe, American soldiers are doing their jobs. It’s difficult to find many comforts in such situations, and sometimes a hot, appetizing and nutritious meal can make all the difference.
The United States military has been continuously working on ways to provide troops with easy to transport and prepared meals that also deliver the substance that soldiers need to do their jobs.
Today, and since the 1960s, that solution takes the form of the MRE (Meals Ready-to-Eat). While they’re a substantial improvement from rations of the past, the U.S. Army has decided the current options are due for an upgrade.
Packaged Entrees For Extreme Conditions
NSRDEC (U.S. Army Natick Solider Research Development and Engineering Center) scientists are in the process of working on specialized non-foil materials that may make the pre-packaged meals less expensive, more environmentally sustainable, and more light weight.
Additionally, the experimental nanocomposite materials are being tested for their ability to better maintain an airtight barrier and contribute to food freshness, even for long periods of time and under extreme conditions.
Unique Packaging Properties
MRE packaging must be able to endure extreme temperatures, varying degrees of moisture, pressure, physical impact, and other conditions. They must also ensure that all food within maintain a shelf-life of more than three years at minimum.
The new high-barrier, non-foil materials have been developed to contribute to all of these factors by mitigating permeation of oxygen and water.
Since the nanocomposite materials are a combination of nano-clay particles and thermoplastic resins that are 1,000 times smaller than current conventional material options, a more secure seal can be maintained and quality of the food can be enhanced.
What’s On The Menu?
While there is still testing to be done, the new nanocomposite packaged meals are expected to be available in 2016. Military personnel will then get the opportunity to enjoy some new entrees, which will include pasta in tomato sauce, spinach fettuccine, and perhaps even there highly anticipated pepperoni pizza—though soldiers will have to wait until 2017 for that particular option.
The new MREs are on the menu for more than just ground troops; variations may also be sent to astronauts in space.
Would you like to see the new nanocomposite materials soon incorporated into civilian packaging applications?