Clothing Guards Against Chemical Weapons

Friday, October 2, 2015 @ 03:10 PM gHale

There is a need for new ways to guard against the toxic effects of chemical weapons.

Along those lines there is a new hydrogel coating in development that can neutralize mustard gas and the nerve agent VX and could someday end up used in materials such as clothing and paint.

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Toxic chemicals have seen use as weapons since ancient times, but it wasn’t until World War I they ended up released in large-scale attacks.

Despite international efforts to ban them, chemical warfare agents (CWA) still come into action. Scientists have developed some substances that can neutralize CWAs, but they lose their effectiveness when incorporated into practical coatings such as paint. Lev Bromberg, a research scientist in T. Alan Hatton’s group in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other colleagues wanted to come up with a better solution.

The researchers developed hydrogel materials that completely broke down the nerve gas VX — one of the most dangerous and persistent CWAs — in less than 20 minutes.

The materials also quickly degraded mustard gas and soman, a nerve agent used in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war. And, the researchers said, the hydrogels could end up applied to fabrics or other materials without losing their ability to neutralize CWAs.

Click here for more information on “Nucleophilic Polymers and Gels in Hydrolytic Degradation of Chemical Warfare Agents.”