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New Coating Neutralizes Nerve Gas

Monday, June 3, 2013

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Calling it a first for the global coating industry, a Texas bioengineering company has introduced a self-decontaminating clear coating that reportedly protects firearms, vehicles, equipment and uniforms by neutralizing sarin and other organophosphorous chemical agents.

Developed by Reactive Surfaces Ltd., WMDtox is billed as an environmentally friendly 21st-century successor to the solvent-heavy liquid-applied Chemical Agent Resistant Coating (CARC) systems that have been used on military vehicles and equipment since 1974.

WMDtox "has been specially formulated to meet military specs for CARC overcoats," according to Reactive Surfaces, an Austin-based functional additives and coating company.

CARC painting in Saudi Arabia
Department of Defense

The U.S. 325th Maintenance Company applies a CARC system at the Al Jubayl Paint Facility in Saudi Arabia.

The functional coating integrates Reactive Surfaces' OPDtox enzyme additive, which the company says has been shown in testing to create catalytically self-decontaminating surfaces.

CARC Concerns

In 1983, the U.S. Army mandated the use of CARC systems on all combat, combat support, tactical wheeled vehicles, aircraft, and essential ground support equipment. The U.S. military is currently spending more than $200 million on liquid-applied CARC paints, according to Reactive Surfaces.

Today's CARC systems no longer use lead or hexavalent chromium, but the coatings remain “essentially a low-gloss version of automotive-grade polyurethane paint,” as a Department of Defense report once said, spurring ongoing concerns over painter health and environmental damage.

DOD has been taking steps to make the liquid-applied systems safer and launched a research effort last year to develop a powder CARC alternative.

"In recent months, the Army has quietly de-certified all vendors’ CARC coatings and is in the process of re-certifying them," says Reactive Surfaces.

Army CARC comic book
Department of Defense

The U.S. Army’s PS Magazine: The Preventive Maintenance Monthly addressed CARC safety in 2000.

"Not the least reason for this is a recent finding that CARC traps and slowly off-gasses deadly nerve agents such as those now being used in Syria. This leaves troops exposed even long after an initial chemical attack."

How it Works

WMDtox "creates a safer environment for war fighters and first responders by mitigating the immediate impact of contact with nerve agents," Reactive Surfaces said in an announcement.

"It allows rapid reclamation of contaminated equipment and can be applied months in advance. The ability to prophylactically coat surfaces that may be exposed to nerve agents dramatically increases the likelihood of survival of the individual who may be required to touch such surfaces."

Most of the anti-chemical-warfare coatings technology used by the U.S. military "is unproven against today’s agents,” said Steve McDaniel, Chief Innovation Officer of Reactive Surfaces.

'Very Real Threat'

The company says it has provided WMDtox to Birdsong Firearms, a well-known Mississippi-based weapons coating company, as a weapons coating for military personnel and first responders.

“We are making WMDtox available today in response to escalations in the Middle East and the very real threat that American soldiers will be confronted with chemical agents in the near future,” said McDaniel.

Sarin test rabbit
Library of Congress

A worker uses a rabbit to check for leaks at a Sarin nerve gas production plant in Colorado in 1970. WMDtox is reportedly able to neutralize Sarin and chemically similar agents.

He added, "There is an active chemical war ongoing in Syria. We must assume that our troops will soon be in a chemical war scenario, and we cannot send our sons and daughters into harm’s way without protection.”

About the Company

Founded in 2002, Reactive Surfaces says it uses environmentally friendly enzyme and peptide technology to develop additives for self-cleaning surfaces, biocidal surfaces, mold-inhibiting surfaces, deodorizing surfaces, textiles with reactive coatings, self-healing coatings and catalytic column coatings for liquid and gaseous waste-stream decontamination.

The company opened its first functional coatings manufacturing plant in July 2012 at the University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) 60,000 square-foot Accelerator in Hattiesburg.

The bioengineering company says it collaborates with scientists at Texas A&M University, the University of Southern Mississippi, and the University of Georgia.

 

   

Tagged categories: Chemical resistance; Coatings technology; Department of Defense (DOD); Hazardous air pollutants; Health and safety; Hexavalent chromium; Lead; Solvents; Specifiers

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