New version of decontamination wipe successfully cleans up nerve gas surrogate

Texas Tech University researchers recently tested a new version of their non-woven decontamination wipe and found it was more viable at cleaning up a nerve gas surrogate than the government's current decontamination product.

Seshadri Ramkumar, the lead investigator of the project and the investor of Fibertect, said the new all-cotton version of the non-woven wipe with an activated carbon center more effectively cleaned up a chemical surrogate for soman and adsorbed its vapors five times better than M-291, a powdered decontaminant. M-291 is currently being phased out by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The researchers published the results of the study in the Journal of Engineered Fibers & Fabrics.

"The basic structure is still Fibertect," Ramkumar said. "This is an improved reiteration of Fibertect. This is just two nonwoven cotton layers with the carbon in between. The cotton composite takes liquid up very quickly and can adsorb vapors more efficiently than the powdered decontaminant."

Ramkumar said that another benefit of the new Fibertect is that it contains biodegradable cotton. The powdered M-291 leaves a dirty residue.

The process to make Fibertect received a patent and was validated for use a low-cost decontamination wipe for the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. military.

"The powdered form is very difficult to handle and to apply toward decontamination purposes," Ron Kendall, a co-investigator on the project, said. "And it is so much easier to handle and apply toward decontamination needs than M-291 carbon system. We're learning more and more of absorption capabilities of cotton-carbon composite."

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