Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Single Battlefield Fuel

Expand the concept past the vehicles
  [vote for,

The US military has, on a number of occasions, created complexity by seeking simplicity in their logistics train. One such example was to choose a fuel and vehicles such that everything could be run on a single fuel variety. To these ends, the military noticed how similar diesel and jet fuel were, and set about converting everything to run on a common derivative. This concept is tempting, with lots and lots of one type of fuel, your advance into enemy territory will not be halted because no one predicted how much use the tactical hedge trimmer* would get. Predictably, it turns out half the ground vehicles have fuel pumps that don't agree with the lubricating properties of jet fuel, so we have a nice example of simplicity-induced- complexity**. So the single fuel probably needs better lubricating properties. It missed a big area too... all the people.

In order to prosecute a war, you still*** need actual people, and they need all sorts of complex things. You can eliminate some, like sleep, with some modafinil and a few amphetamines but a fuel source is still needed. Irritatingly, people can't metabolize diesel so the US military chose to produce MRE which taste the same but are much less convenient. Now, people can metabolize fatty acids, and you CAN run engines on those. They are unstable however, and go all rancid, smelly and oxidized, which is not helpful. You can stabilize such fatty acids with a methyl or ethyl group, then they're great fuel for engines. People consuming methyl esters have problems with disagreeable concentrations of methanol, and ethyl esters (Fatty acid ethyl esters) tend to cause pancreatitis at tiny concentrations****. So there are problems there. Fatty acids are metabolized quite nicely into ketone bodies by the liver, and many tissues find these excellent fuel. The brain is fussy and needs glucose, and even the infantry need some brain activity. The liver can't make glucose from fatty acids*****.

Damn. But wait, It CAN make it from glycerol!! Where do you find that? well, in fat you have 3 fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol, a tryglyceride. So just use fat? No, that solidifies in fuel tanks when its cold, and the fatty- acid glycerol ratio is all wrong to solve the glucose problem.

So, my solution: glycerol with one fatty acid attached. It's perfect. Three times the glycerol to fatty acid molar ratio, which solves the glucose generation problem, the melting point is fine if you use a short chain fatty acid. They taste a bit sweet, they have lovely lubrication properties, even "personal" lubrication properties if you add a little water, you know, for battlefield chafing. You can run diesel engines on straight glycerol, or fat, so no reason why this wont work there. If the soldiers get hungry, wheel in the fuel truck. Done. I'll take my DOD contract now please.

*a diesel hedge trimmer is no more ridiculous than a diesel dirt bike, and the USMC has plenty of those. **relevant XKCD <link> ***true, as of Late 2015 ****people with pancreatitis tend to be ineffective at war fighting. *****actually, it can, well, about 10% of that required, via acetone and acetol monoxygenase pathway, but that's secret not-in-Stryer knowledge only known to the insiders...

bs0u0155, Dec 08 2015

Simplifying Industry Standards https://xkcd.com/927/
[bs0u0155, Dec 09 2015]


       // even the infantry need some brain activity. //   

       Only for enlisted soldiers and non-comissioned officers. Historically and observationally, brain activity in comissioned officers represents such an overwhelming barrier to promotion that it is never detectable above the rank of Captain.
8th of 7, Dec 08 2015

       I read about these Welsh folks who were circumventing the fuel tax by purchasing tubs of canola oil (was it canola?) and using it for diesel. If "biodiesel" can be a food grade edible oil why not just use that?
bungston, Dec 08 2015

       I used to put vegetable oil in my old Renault Clio diesel, back in my undergraduate days, its an easy decision when the worst case scenario is to destroy a fuel pump, which costs less than a tank of real diesel. Used to get it from a pub, neutralize it, filter it, good to go. Anyhow, if you feed people on straight fat, they will be fine for a while, but gluconeogenesis will slowly strip their muscles of amino acids to maintain blood sugar. If you feed people on a mixture of fat and glycerol, they don't need to strip their muscles.
bs0u0155, Dec 09 2015

       This is very probably one of the best proposals for a combined military food/fuel that I've ever encountered on this site today, so far.   

MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2015

       It's early in the day, but yea. Very clever. [+]   

       I for one would be pretty intimidated by a military that all ran on the same stuff.   

       "Today we go into battle! Our tanks, jet bombers and soldiers all drink War Juice, we kill many enemy! Let enemy girly men bitches eat ice cream and lollypops like cry baby pussies!"   

       I would picture such an army being very no nonsense and never using contractions when they speak.
doctorremulac3, Dec 09 2015

       Hear hear! Contractions aren't big, and they're not clever.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2015

       / If you feed people on a mixture of fat and glycerol, they don't need to strip their muscles./   

       Muscle stripping will occur to allow gluconeogenesis but also for lack of essential amino acids. Even yeast which can make all their own AA cannot get by on straight glycerol because there is no nitrogen source. To prevent muscle loss one would need to supply the humans their essential AA to support protein synthesis.   

       If you want a clean, purist, no carb ketogenic fighting force you could supply extra glutamate in their AA bar which (if memory serves - glutamate to alpha ketoglutarate?) is the AA needed for gluconeogenesis.   

       + for rational, thinkable, concept driven scheme.
bungston, Dec 09 2015

       //Hear hear! Contractions aren't big, and they're not clever.//   

       That's right. You'll never see a buff, heavily armed alien space soldier using them. They're, a sign of weakness! It paints a picture of a young warrior who was wasting his time studying writing skills rather than battle tactics.   

       I use them 'cause they save a little time. And I'm not a heavily armed alien warrior, there's that. Resonably buff, but not the other stuff.   

       I like for instance how Romulans and Klingons figured out how to travel faster than the speed of light but never learned how to say "We're traveling at warp factor two captain!"   

       Fun fact: The spell check for Halfbakery recognized Klingons as a legitimate word without suggesting it's misspelled but not Romulans. Interesting. Try it. It also doesn't recognize Halfbakery.
doctorremulac3, Dec 09 2015

       Not only that, but it doesn't recognize "recognize".   

       Minor challenge: create a readable sentence none of whose words are recognized by the HB spell-checker. Accepted spelling variants may be used.   

       Azerbaijanians shewed Uzbekistanis anguilliform draff.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2015

       Doctorremulac3's Romulan Halfbakery.   

       It's a sentence. What do I win?
doctorremulac3, Dec 09 2015

       I think you'll find it's a clause rather than a sentence.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 09 2015

       I'm not sure it's even that. I think it's just a title no?   

       A clause is a group of words that can act as a sentence, but is not necessarily a complete sentence on its own. All clauses contain both a subject and a predicate, which always contains a verb. A predicate tells something about what the subject is doing. Some clauses can stand alone as a complete sentence; others cannot.   

       I wrote that from memory of course, I didn't cut and past it from the web. Well, maybe a little bit.
doctorremulac3, Dec 09 2015

       //The spell check// is a browser thing for text boxes.
FlyingToaster, Dec 09 2015

       // I think you'll find it's a clause rather than a sentence. //   

       <obligatory Marx Bros 'sanity clause' reference />
8th of 7, Dec 09 2015

       //Muscle stripping will occur to allow gluconeogenesis but also for lack of essential amino acids. //   

       Agreed, you need amino acids to build proteins. But you can go for a long time without them, cells recycle proteins, and the whole body recycles them, layers of nested protein recycling efficiency, you're going to be needing a few grams to keep up with that. The difference is when you need to use them for energy. Gluconeogenesis needs to make 100-ish grams of glucose per day, so it's got to take roughly the same amount of protein from somewhere. You get into pretty serious problems if you're loosing 100s of grams a day, which would be enhanced should there be any physical exertion going on. There is frequently exertion in war.
bs0u0155, Dec 11 2015

       Seriously, this would be an amazing concept for how a fictional science fiction army fuels itself. I love so called "hard science fiction" where there's some real theory behind the technology featured and this is right there. Interesting from a scientific and novelty basis.   

       I'm betting with a little work you could get it featured in a movie. It would be an interesting scene and a cool feature of the characters. Just have one scene where the alien army general talks about how they all drink "War Juice."   

       Again, for psychological reasons alone, a military force that all eats the same stuff, man and machine? Intimidating. The next Mad Max movie is a candidate if they make another one. Last one was lousy.
doctorremulac3, Dec 11 2015

       // a military force that all eats the same stuff, man and machine //   


       "He's more machine now than man, twisted and evil ... "   


       You got something against man-machine hybrids ? Eh ? EH ? You talkin' to us ? You talkin' to us ? You talkin' to us ? Then who the hell else are you talking... you talking to us ? Well, we're the only ones here ..."
8th of 7, Dec 11 2015

       Settle down 8, here, have some war juice.   

       Oohh! Good name for a 180 proof moonshine.   

       Licencing terms negotiable.
doctorremulac3, Dec 11 2015

       //Eh ? EH ? You talkin' to us ? You talkin' to us ? You talkin' to us ? //   

       Looks like the collective is getting a little wound up and cranky... could be low blood sugar, check the fatty acid- glycerol ratio in your Borg-spec War Juice. If it's off, I'll ship out a new batch gratis. The cosmos does not need a cranky collective.
bs0u0155, Dec 11 2015


       Is there a better category choice, or does the nature of the idea best suit it for this one ? Talk amongst yourselves, extra points for interpretive dance and body casting.
normzone, Dec 11 2015

       Why are all military vehicles not equipped with a clockwork motor at least as a backup? Winding up these motors would double up as excercise and the large key needed would naturally fit all vehicles.
xenzag, Dec 12 2015

       horrible [+]
Voice, Dec 12 2015

       /The difference is when you need to use them for energy/   

       If they are scarce you can save them. This is where the very cool ketogenic switch comes in.   

       If carbohydrate is scarce the body can switch over to burn ketone bodies for energy. If this was covered in biochem I was asleep, but the existence of an alternate fuel metabolism is a very cool thing. Circulating ketone bodies (actually acetone) serves to signal far-flung cells that there is glucose scarcity and they switch; even the brain. During ketogenesis glucose is reserved for synthetic needs, not energy production.
bungston, Dec 12 2015

       Ahhh, Soylent Green Unleaded ...
8th of 7, Dec 12 2015

       //Circulating ketone bodies (actually acetone) serves to signal far-flung cells that there is glucose scarcity and they switch; even the brain. During ketogenesis glucose is reserved for synthetic needs, not energy production//   

       You're half right, which is the dangerous amount of right. There's a bunch of different ketone bodies, which is why they're termed ketone bodies, not just acetone. And they do do signalling stuff which is great. There's also a major role for the absence of signalling, glucose, insulin and my personal favorite: circulating reabsorbed bile derivatives, there's not enough love for the bile acid receptor in my opinion. Anyhow, eventually the body can converts to ketone bodies, even the brain can get 75% there. There's still that 25%, and worse, red blood cells are useless at running without glucose. At rest you can cope, lots of sitting around limp is advantageous here. Now, inject a bit of stress, suddenly the muscles start chomping on the glucose again. Following that, the whole body is going to have some redox-based housekeeping to do, the only way to reset oxidized glutathione requires glucose, and the ketone body to glucose conversion doesn't happen, much, maybe.
bs0u0155, Dec 14 2015


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