Our friends and loved ones who serve in the
military and as first responders never know when their duty might include exposure to
airborne toxins and other dangerous compounds. To prepare and protect themselves, military
and first responders wear clothing and breathing gear that can filter and capture those toxins.
But what they really want are fabrics and filters that not only capture the toxins but
also self-decontaminate, converting dangerous agents into something harmless.
At the Naval Research Laboratory Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering, Dr.
Brandy White is giving the people what they want. She is developing sorbent compounds
that can capture many different types of contaminants and then break them down into non-toxic components.
These sorbent compounds can be bonded into clothing and gas masks, or even coated onto
windows, vehicles, and electronics. The potential is huge for providing safer conditions in
combat, in hospitals, at industrial cleanup sites, and more.
�The materials that we design are directed at chemical compounds of interest. So if you
think of a chemical attack, the materials would provide potentially air filtration protection
against that attack or they could be used to design garments that would protect against
those compounds.� The applications for the combat environment
are very promising, in part, because White�s compounds are stable in extreme conditions.
Wet or dry, you can stick them out in the July sun at one hundred degrees for a week
and nothing about their performance characteristic changes.
White�s sorbents can be used for more than garments and gas masks. For example, compound
specific filters used in air purification systems could reduce ammonia smells in hospitals
or reduce harmful exhaust from industrial processes.
NRL science, solving the challenges of tomorrow.