New ECBC explosives screening kit ready for acquisition phase

A lightweight and easy-to-use explosive screening kit is ready to move onto the next phase, which involves low cost commercial production, the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center recently announced.

The Colorimetric Reconnaissance Explosive Squad Screening kit uses chemical reactions that produce color changes when they come into contact with four specific homemade explosive materials precursor chemicals. The precursors include two oxidizers and two fuels that could indicate the presence of explosives.

On October 1, the CRESS kit transitions from the ECBC to Joint Project Manager Guardian as a program of record, allowing for the facilitation of low cost commercial production.

"The CRESS kit is a perfect example of how ECBC can use its expertise in chemistry and engineering to rapidly develop a solution for the soldier," Augustus Fountain, a senior research scientist for chemistry at the ECBC, said. "Leveraging the center's expertise in 3D printing and rapid prototyping allowed us to quickly innovate to a unique design for the handheld kit."

The handheld CRESS kit produces test results in under two minutes and requires no power source.

The device began initial soldier testing in June 2011 with additional testing in February 2012 after undergoing some minor modifications. The third military utility assessment occurred in April. The CRESS kit received a safety confirmation in August.

In October, the kit entered the engineering and manufacturing development phase, the final step before production and development, which is expected to take place in the summer of 2015.