ECBC develops cheaper, more efficient biological detector

The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center announced on Thursday that it developed a next generation, tactical biological detector that saves production time, reduces technology costs and uses more energy efficient power.

The TAC-BIO II detector costs 80 percent less and weighs three times less than the prior model. Through a collaborative patent licensing agreement, a cooperative research and development agreement and a partnership intermediary agreement with General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products and Research International, Inc., the ECBC developed the next generation chemical detector.

The ECBC used funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to produce the TAC-BIO II for only $2,000. The center developed the lighter detector by inserting plastic-coated aluminum mirrors using an injection molding machine. The machine heats pellets and plastic granules into a molten form, injects the form into a mold and ejects the finished part after cooling.

"The process is similar to squeezing play dough through the forming shapes when you were a kid, but much more sophisticated," Richard Kreis, an ECBC senior engineering technician, said. "The molds were made here in our shop and have been shot over 700 times. What we are able to do here at ECBC is unique. We collaborated closely with our engineering team and fine-tuned these pieces as we went to perfect them. No other Army laboratory has this capability onsite."

The weatherproof TAC-BIO II uses advanced detection algorithms to reduce false alarms. The ECBC said the device could be used for troops, first responders and even in school systems to alert individuals to a potential threat.

"A network of TAC-BIOs could work as an early detection system against a biological attack," Aime Goad, an ECBC engineer, said. "The TAC-BIO is so light and affordable that units can be sent into the field for troops to place on vehicles in forward units."