ECBC develops chemical agent disposal system

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center recently announced a successful collaboration to close a capability gap in chemical agent disposal operations in the development of the field deployable hydrolysis system.

Approximately one year ago, the U.S. Department of Defense identified the gap and sought a solution that would meet mission critical needs by the following summer, giving the ECBC only six months to produce an operational model of the FDHS. Through collaboration with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the ECBC spearheaded the project from design and fabrication through engineering and test evaluation.

"The most difficult aspect of designing a system in such a short time period was the need to concurrently perform tasks that would normally be performed sequentially," Adam Baker, a chemical engineer with the ECBC's Chemical Biological Applications & Risk Reduction business unit, said. "Equipment was already being procured while reaction chemistry and skid design were still being finalized. To overcome this challenge, ECBC and the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense's Joint Project Manager for Elimination incorporated proven technology to the greatest extent possible, which helped keep late design changes to a minimum."

The project was a success, producing a system that is able to neutralize bulk amounts of chemical warfare agents and their precursors at a 99.9 percent destruction efficiency rate.

"The process was a rare opportunity for CBARR to work collaboratively with a large number of organizations within and outside of ECBC," Baker said. "One lesson learned from this project is that ECBC can greatly enhance its capabilities by working collaboratively with other organizations that have complementary skill sets."

The FDHS can be set up within just 10 days to destroy chemical agents.

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