07:54 GMT26 February 2020
Listen Live
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL
    378
    Subscribe

    The US Army is funding development of a radical, new fabric technology that is capable of capturing nerve gases such as sarin and VX and rendering them harmless and inert.

    Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered a nanomaterial that can destroy toxic nerve agents that pose a mortal danger to humans, part of a 10-year effort to develop uniforms that can protect their wearers against chemical weapons, Wired reported.

    "With the correct chemistry, we can render toxic gases nontoxic," Omar K. Farha, an associate professor of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who led the research, said in a news release. "The action takes place at the nanolevel."

    The composite material is a zirconium-based metal-organic framework (MOF), a lattice that traps organic molecules in its roomy pores. According to the release, the same mechanism that traps the nerve gas as it passes through the fabric also traps humidity from the air. The water then begins a reaction that breaks down the nerve agent into a harmless chemical in just a few minutes.

    Integration of metal-organic frameworks on protective layers for the destruction of nerve agents under relevant conditions.

    One interesting feature, according to Wired, is that perspiration actually helps the process along.

    "MOFs can capture, store and destroy a lot of the nasty material, making them very attractive for defense-related applications," Farha, a member of the International Institute for Nanotechnology, explained. The research team’s work, titled “Integration of Metal-Organic Frameworks on Protective Layers for Destruction of Nerve Agents under Relevant Conditions,” was published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

    Water also forms part of the process of neutralization used by the US Army to destroy its chemical weapons stockpiles, which is called supercritical water oxidation. The process includes both water and sodium hydroxide, better known as lye, which is essentially the same combination used to clean dirty grills and deep fryers. However, this process involves much higher concentrations of nerve agent, such as are found inside an artillery shell.

    The research program is funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation.

    Related:

    OPCW Whistleblower Blasts Chemical Watchdog’s ‘Sanitized’ Douma Report in UN Testimony
    OPCW Backs Adding Novichok Nerve Agent to List of Banned Chemicals
    US Speeds Creation of Nerve Gas Antidotes With Space Station Experiment
    Tags:
    research, US Army, fabric, nerve gas, sarin
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via SputnikComment via Facebook