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US researchers to make self-decontaminating army suits
Mar '15
courtesy: U.S. Army
courtesy: U.S. Army
US chemist David McGarvey, Ph.D, at the Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), on Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, and his team of researchers who are a part of a team led by the Natick Soldier Systems Center, is developing army uniforms and protective suits called “Uniform Integrated Protective Ensemble” (UIPE), made with chemically treated fabrics that can neutralize chemical or biological agents, according to an article on the official homepage of the United States Army.

The UIPE is expected to improve mobility, as it would be lighter, and designed with specially designed vents that provide some breathability to the uniform.

According to the research, the uniform items are pre-treated with a chemical that can render things harmless including nerve or blister agents.

McGarvey said, “We have collaborators at the Air Force Research Laboratory that design reactive chemical components that can be placed on fabrics. If soldiers are in the field, they may not know they have been contaminated. We are trying to increase soldier survivability through that type of capability.”

In such cases, McGarvey said, the chemicals built into the soldier’s uniform begin working immediately to neutralize that contamination.

McGarvey is taking swatches of uniform fabric that have been treated with those reactive chemicals, applying one milligram of simulated chemical warfare agent, and then using a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer to determine what those chemical warfare agents are broken down into when they come in contact with the fabric treatment.

He is also studying if the byproducts of that reaction can be dangerous to the soldiers.

McGarvey said, “We are able to observe the chemical weapon material and we are able to identify the breakdown products and determine how well it works for decontamination. We determine how effective the fabrics are at doing their job, and determine what the breakdown products are. We explain the mechanism of how these agents work, so the fabric developers can change their formulation and then make better fabrics.” (GK)

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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