A British fire-lighters manufacturer has developed a military cooking fuel formula based on biodiesel, believed to offer a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative to toxic hexamine.
Zip, the Surrey-based fire-lighters and barbecue-fuels manufacturer has identified a gap in the market after a former soldier joined the company's staff.
“Currently, the soldiers are using hexamine to warm up their food, but honestly, they are not very happy about it,” said Terry Coates, Zip’s Managing Director. “Hexamine is toxic. When it burns it releases toxic fumes, which are dangerous if inhaled and therefore cannot be used indoors. It also doesn’t burn very well at higher altitudes and in bad weather.”
The new solution, the first major innovation in military cooking fuels in 70 years, is based on fully renewable crop-based biodiesel. However, keeping the fuel in a solid state in a form of small neat cubes has been quite a feat, the company said.
“We have been working on it for three years,” Coates said. “We have over 70 years of experience in manufacturing of fire-lighters and with our know-how and technology, using the correct additives, we have managed to create a product, which we believe is currently the best in the market.”
Zip’s military cooking fuel doesn’t release any toxic substances while burning, it has unlimited shelf life, is easy to light in all conditions and provides better efficiency than conventional fuels. As it is not based on petroleum, it is not classified as hazardous and can be transported by air, unlike the conventional hexamine.
The fuel has been introduced in the UK for the first time at the Defence and Security Event in London this week.
“The response has so far been amazing. Everyone is interested in our product, however, most of the military organisations are stocked up with the currently available hexamine so we would have to wait for them to run out of supplies,” Coates said.
The company will also offer the product for civilian purposes, to be used by mountaineers, hikers, or in disaster zones.