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|The food ration packets supplied to soldiers in the field usually make use of an internal chemical reaction for warming food, still sealed inside its packaging. The chemical reaction produces hydrogen, which is normally released when a magnesium, iron and salt compound is mixed with water.
Though the amount of hydrogen released from small individual ration packets is well within the 4% exposure limit, a larger ration pack capable of feeding up to 18 soldiers can produce 380 litres of hydrogen gas. This is a health hazard concern when soldiers are holed up in confined spaces, such as underground bunkers.
This Flameless Chemical Heater (FCH) comprises water permeable sachet of a milled magnesium-based compound containing transition metal oxides, such as platinum, iridium and rhodium to prevent the cogeneration of hydrogen during the chemical reaction. Once the FCH sachet is placed inside a cardboard container alongside the food sachet, water is added to the box to produce a chemical reaction, while the container rests at an angle.
Field tests have found that apart from suppressing hydrogen formation, the inclusion of metal oxides in the magnesium-based mixture dramatically reduces the time period required for the FCH to obtain an optimum heating temperature of 70 degrees Celsius.