Cannon Fodder

In the high-octane hell of a war zone there’s little opportunity for the hungry soldier to sit down and enjoy a wholesome meal.

However, researchers at the Natick Soldier Systems Centre in the US are working on a project which should ensure that the warrior of the future never has to go without.

The Transdermal Nutrient Delivery System, although still at the conceptual stage, is expected to expand on the osmotic technology of the smoker’s patch; transmitting vitamins and nutrients into the bloodstream rather than nicotine.

According to Gerald Darsch, joint project director for the Combat Feeding Program, a microprocessor embedded in the patch will interact with sensors to determine the user’s metabolic requirements. The processor will then activate a microelectrical mechanical system to transmit the nutrients. It is thought that either electrical impulses will be used to open the skin pores, or microdialysis will be used to pump nutrients directly into blood capillaries.

The patch is also expected to have applications in a variety of other stressful, hazardous workplaces. Mountaineers, firemen, miners and astronauts are all expected to feel the benefits of a technology which, say its inventors, will be available by 2025.