U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Natick, MA 01760-5012
Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
Date: September 20, 2002
NATICK, Mass. -- Clouds of steam escaped the opened steel box and soon evaporated enough to clearly reveal its contents. The prototype Multi-Ration Heater being demonstrated will pave the way for Air Force cooks to prepare heat and serve meals.
"The Multi-Ration Heater has proven to be a cost-effective, reliable and safe piece of field-feeding equipment that meets the needs of the customer," said Mario Lucciarini, project officer for the Systems Equipment Engineering Team, part of the Department of Defense Combat Feeding Program at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Mass. "The Air Force has never used heat and serve rations before until the current requirements came along for the Single Pallet Expeditionary Kitchen."
The portable, stainless steel heater re-thermalizes as many as 18 polymeric tray packs or a combination of No. 10 cans in 30-45 minutes. Besides the kitchen, the heater is also designed for use on the back of a Humvee as a "heat-on-the-move" concept.
It uses a commercial burner manufactured by R.W. Beckett Corp. capable of operating on JP-8 or diesel fuel.
Fuel lines connected to a standard 5-gallon external tank provide the burner up to 10 hours of continuous operation.
Underneath the water tank, the burner supplies 56,000 BTUs of heat through a double-pass heat manifold with an 87 percent efficiency rating. Water is heated to 185-195 degrees F required to achieve the proper serving temperature.
"Hot air enters and travels through the length of the heater, enters a heat manifold, then is directed back, making it fuel efficient by eliminating excess heat loss," Lucciarini said. "The low-cost commercial-off-the-shelf Beckett burner provides tremendous logistical support. Spare parts are readily available from the Beckett Corp. or any Beckett dealership across the country."
The skid-mounted heater has a watertight electrical control box with a circuit breaker and switches for main power and pre-heating.
A sensor automatically shuts off the burner if the water tank level drops below 2 inches or if the heater tips over.
Operation is as simple as placing the tray packs into a rack, filling the 15-gallon tank with water and turning it on.
Testing at the Soldier Systems Center's Climatic Chambers last year indicated that the Multi-Ration Heater will start and operate trouble-free in temperatures ranging from minus 25 to 120 degrees F.
The Soldier Systems Center is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information about SBCCOM or the Center, please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.
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