2005 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 20 Jul 2005 21:44:35 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Cleaner Army smoke grenades

By Kathleen Voigt 
Environmental Update (U.S. Army Environmental Center)
Summer 2005

The smoke used to communicate and conceal on the battlefield could soon
be sweeter for the environment and Soldier health thanks to an Army
initiative to remove potentially harmful dyes and other materials.

The Army smoke and dye replacement program found a sugar formulation
that successfully replaces the sulfur in most M18 and M40 smoke grenades
used by the U.S. military. 

The program found 15 possible changes that not only remove the sulfur
from the grenades, but also reduce the weight and manufacturing costs,
according to U.S. Army Environmental Center officials.

Soldiers use smoke grenades for communication, including identifying
landing zones, friendly troops and potential targets. However, many
kinds of grenade smoke contain dyes and other materials that could pose
a risk to human health and safety and the environment.

At the program's onset, the switch to the sugar mixture was successful
for green and yellow M18 grenades and red 40 mm projectiles.

Changes to the red and violet M18 smoke grenades were more difficult.
Initially, the new dyes burned instead of smoked, not producing enough
colored smoke to meet strict military standards. To keep the dyes
burning long enough to produce the necessary amount of smoke, the
starter patches used to ignite the dye were redesigned to decrease the
internal temperature of the grenades. This kept the dye from burning and
resulted in more smoke production.

Once starter patches were replaced in the violet and red smoke grenades,
the amount of smoke produced was more than adequate to meet military
standards. The violet smoke grenades successfully produced the right
color, amount of smoke and burn time. However, the smoke produced by the
redesigned red smoke grenades was too pale compared to the original.
Additional research and testing will be necessary to develop smoke for
the red M18 grenades.

The Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the
Environmental Security Technology Certification Program provide funding
for this program.

Note: Kathleen Voigt is a Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., consultant
supporting the U.S. Army Environmental Center.

For the original article, go to


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918
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