DOD and USDA Support Leads to Decontamination Technology
In December of 2008, with the support of funding from the Department of Defense, a team of researchers at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University announced the development of a next –generation chemical warfare agent decontamination pad called Fibertect™.
As described in the American Chemical Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, the three tiered piece of fabric addresses the increasingly important need for an effective multipurpose chemical decontamination tool. With an ability to absorb liquids and adsord vaporized chemicals in an effective and safe manner, the decontamination pad is expected to be utilized in a variety of ways.
Unlike many other chemical decontamination tools that come in the form of powders or liquids and have associated health concerns, the pad offers a convenient means to negate the properties of dangerous chemicals. Studies performed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory show Fibertect™’s performance as a chemical decontamination dry wipe for mustard gas exceeded that of thirty other decontaminant products.
The development team, led by Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar and assisted by scientists from the Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr. National Program for Countermeasures to Biological and Chemical Threats, used needlepunching nonwoven technology to create a pad that absorbs and adsorbs dangerous chemicals from personnel and equipment. The pad’s center consists of an activated carbon cloth. A fabric layer on one side offers structural support while a layer on the other side acts as an absorbent.
The nonwoven research done by Dr. Ramkumar and his group at Texas Tech University is supported by the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Agriculture. The project originated from a post 9/11 realization that the United States needed a more effective chemical cleanup tool in the likelihood of another terrorist attack. The successful development of Fibertect™ addresses the need for such a tool as outlined in the Department of Defense‘s annual reports to Congress in 2004 and 2005, as well as a Department of Agriculture project to develop cotton based defense materials.
The wipe has been licensed to Hobbs Bonded Fibers of Waco, Texas for commercialization.