Battle Field Kitchen Equipment

Morale and fighting capabilities for foot soldiers is improved if consistent, hot and delicious meals are served on the battlefield. Battlefield kitchens are well along the way towards meeting this need and are capable of serving several hundred meals at a time. These kitchens are rugged and contain equipment that can be easily disassembled and transported from the kitchen trailer to a more secure location on the battlefield if possible.

Kitchen equipment is operated with jet fuel (#8) and has conventionally been fired in a "direct" mode. This means that the combustion gases directly contact the food in an oven for example. Also, flue gases have typically been released directly into the kitchen tent area resulting in a hot, smelly environment for the cooks to operate.

These kitchens are now being converted to an indirect firing method where the flue gases are managed throughout the process ending in being discharged through vents outside of the cooking enclosure. This provides a better quality environment for the kitchen staff.

The technical challenges with indirectly firing kitchen equipment in the battlefield environment are meeting efficiency targets, even heat application, clean combustion, low noise, and simple operation. The first project in this series was to develop a convection oven with 5 shelves operating at 50,000 btu/hr input. A prototype concept was already started when we got involved. Our first step was to undertake a CFD analysis of the air flow in the oven cavity so that even cooking was promoted. The second step was to develop a heat exchanger that would efficiently capture heat from the combustion gases and transfer it to the oven without reaching excessive temperature since the construction material was aluminum.

The final prototype successfully met all cooking, efficiency, weight and combustion requirements.