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On-site Treatment of Contaminated Equipment


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Chem Bio_defense, Materials 

OBJECTIVE: Develop a self-contained decontamination system for on-site treatment of contaminated personal gear and equipment. 

DESCRIPTION: In recent years, the number of terrorist incidents involving chemical weapon agents continues to rise. There is high potential that the warfighter may encounter similar and emerging threats on the battlefield. To limit the spread of contamination and restore combat operations, there is an essential need for a self-contained, field decontamination system for on-site treatment of both personal and sensitive equipment. The system will decontaminate a broad spectrum of chemical and biological (CB) agents from a variety of equipment within 8-hours while not compromising the integrity or function of the equipment, allowing it to be returned to normal operations without limitations. Performance objectives are a 10,000 fold (4-log) decrease of a chemical agent starting at a 1 gram per square meter loading and 1,000,000 fold decrease (6-log) of viable biological agents starting at a 107 loading of colony forming units (CFU). Examples of gear include but are not limited to helmets, tactical vests, and sensitive equipment such as radios and night-vision goggles. For the purposes of this topic, sensitive equipment will be modeled on a military-style, multi-channeled, hand-held radio that the vendor will use (and acquire) to verify and validate performance of the decontamination system. A potential approach would be to place the contaminated equipment in a portable enclosure that maintains the effective decontamination conditions for the necessary duration. The self-contained system would require only equipment that could be readily transported. Assume that additional electrical power will not be available on-site and that JP8 will be the only fuel available. 

PHASE I: Develop a decontamination platform/process based on technologies or combinations of technologies that have proven effectiveness (TRL 4) against a broad range of CB agents on relevant military materials. Construct a “breadboard” prototype and demonstrate that the device achieves the necessary conditions at all points of the targeted sensitive item that will be decontaminated. Demonstrate neutralization of contamination on a sensitive equipment mock-up. Demonstrate decontamination of this item using a chemical surrogate that simulates the relevant properties of HD or VX, and a qualified biological surrogate targeted to simulate the relevant properties of bacillus anthracis spores. Establish the time and conditions required, and verify that total remaining agent (simulant) can be reduced to performance objective levels. Show through analysis that conditions in the decontamination process will not harm the equipment being decontaminated. Estimate the logistic requirements of the proposed process. 

PHASE II: Refine the design and construct a “brassboard” prototype that provides the form, fit and function of the targeted end product. Demonstrate the decontamination effectiveness against HD, GD and VX chemical agents, and a qualified bacillus anthracis spore surrogate on the model sensitive item. Validate that total remaining agent is at or below performance objectives. Demonstrate and validate that the conditions of the process do not have a deleterious impact on the immediate or long-term function of the modeled sensitive item. The prototype will include management of effluents to ensure agents or harmful chemicals are contained during the process. Chemical agent testing must be conducted at an approved DoD facility, or commercial facility that has been approved to handle DoD generated agents. 

PHASE III: PHASE III: Refine the prototype design. Demonstrate that it can decontaminate a broader range of sensitive equipment. Provide military users prototypes for field-testing. Obtain user feedback to further refine the design. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: This technology will be valuable to both military personnel and first responders for on-site decontamination. 


1: Handbook of Chemical and Biological Warfare Agent Decontamination by G.O. Bizzigotti, R.P. Rhoads and S.J. Lee

2:  ILM Publications, 2012.

3:  Myers, J. (2018) "Chemical Hot Air Decontamination of Sulfur Mustard Contaminated Personal Effects." EPA Decontamination Research and Development Conference.

4:  Buhr et al. J. Appl. Microbiol. 119, 1263-1277.

5:  Lalain, T.

6:  Mantooth, B.

7:  Shue, M.

8:  Pusey, S.

9:  Wylie, D. The Chemical Contaminant and Decontaminant Test Methodology Source Document, Second Edition

10:  ECBC-TR-980

11:  U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center: Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD, 2012. UNCLASSIFIED Report. DTIC Access Number ADA566601.

KEYWORDS: Decontamination, Personal Protective Equipment, Chemical Warfare Agent, Biological Warfare Agent, Hazardous Materials 

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