Revolutionary coating to protect military equipment from chemical warfare agents

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The ability to recover assets after a chemical agent attack and quickly resume normal operations is a military priority. An innovative coating that can temporarily protect tactical military equipment from chemical warfare agents (CWAs) is under development. The US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) is working with the Pentagon and commercial partners to produce and refine the technology.

To date, military machinery and battlefield tools have been coated with substances that can provide visual camouflage and corrosion protection. But existing coatings have so far not been able to offer the most adequate enhanced resistance against chemical agents.

“We explored ways to make military equipment as easy to clean as possible and to prevent [CWAs] from penetrating standard coatings,” Dr. Bernadette Higgins, science and technology director for DTRA’s Risk Protection and Mitigation Division, told Nextgov.com.

The ultimate intent isn’t to create a one-off, permanent coating – rather, officials want to develop, test, and improve temporary overcoats that can be sprayed, wiped, or brushed onto equipment by troops, then worked and weathered. exposure for at least six months in the field.

Researchers are leveraging some of the latest advances in polymer synthesis, engineering, and coating formulations to improve both the resistance to hazardous chemicals and the decontamination process of painted military surfaces “to the level stainless steel”. They look to a recently validated test standard known as the Chemical Agent Resistance Method to compare and quantify the CWA resistance of existing and in-process coating systems.

So far, tests of newly manufactured overcoats have shown a reduction in the amount of CWA absorbed “by five to a hundred times”, the officials reported, and the coatings have worked for more than 8 weeks under normal environmental conditions.