From The Army Times:
Feed hot food to 18 soldiers ' fast
By Matthew Cox
Army scientists have cooked up a new style of group ration for feeding soldiers on the go.
The Unitized Group Ration-Express modules serve hot meals for up to 18 soldiers without kitchen equipment, cooks, fuel or a power source, said Shari Dangel, a physical scientist for Natick Soldier Center, in a recent press release.
'The UGR-E borrows technology from the [Meals, Ready-to-Eat] Flameless Ration Heater to heat the food,' Dangel said. 'These magnesium-based heaters produce a significant amount of heat with relatively small amounts of raw material. All that is required to start the reaction is mixing salt water with the magnesium.'
Each UGR-E contains four heaters that are 10 times the size of each single MRE heater. With a quick pull of a tab, the meals are ready in up to 45 minutes. The technology most benefits small, remote units operating in austere environments, Dangel said, explaining that prototype UGR-E's have been sent to both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The first UGR-Es will include three breakfast menus and six lunch/dinner menus.
The four, six-pound polymeric tray packs include an entr'e, vegetable, starch, dessert, plus snacks ' like M&Ms, Reese's Pieces or powdered beverages that soldiers can eat and drink while the food is heating up ' as well as dining trays, beverages, eating utensils and serving utensils.
Soldiers that evaluated the UGR-Es have liked that they do not have to rely on drivers to bring them food in insulated containers cooked in field kitchens hours beforehand, she said. 'They can wait until they are almost ready to eat to start heating the food, then eat it while it's still hot,' Dangel said.
There are two types of UGR-Es. The Type I UGR-E requires soldiers to place the four heaters into the heater trays before pulling the tab. With Type II UGR-Es, the heaters are sealed into the heater trays. Soldiers need to pull one tab that will uncover the heaters and then pull a second tab that will release the activator solution.
'To meet the immediate needs of the services, an accelerated development effort will field the UGR-E initially as Type I, and later the Type II will be transitioned as improvements in the heating system are completed,' said Peter Lavigne, a chemical engineer at Natick.
'We're also investigating other opportunities to improve the concept, to include the use of coated fiber heating trays that are low cost, lightweight and offer improved disposability and recyclability.'