Friday, July 29, 2011

Nanotechnology Article to Be Published in International Journal

Senior Research Chemist Harold D. Banks, Ph.D., reviews his article that was accepted for publication in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry.
An article written by Harold D. Banks, Ph.D., senior research chemist at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, was accepted for publication by Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, an international journal published in the U.K. by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The article, “Substituent Effects on the Rate of Formation of Azomethine Ylides,” studies the effects of chemical groups attached to an aziridine on the rate of formation of azomethine ylides (AMY). AMYs are species having partial positive charge on the ring nitrogen and negative charge dispersed over the carbon atoms immediately attached.

AMYs react readily with double and triple bonds, notably with graphene, an exciting nanomaterial that has recently become available in Nobel Prize-winning work. Banks’ paper describes a sophisticated computational search and discovery of an extremely reactive aziridine that is predicted to react at room temperature, thus making it useful for the study of biological and sensitive chemical systems.

When this reaction occurs with nanomaterials so as to introduce the necessarily sensitive groups required for detection, it may lead to new approaches for detection of biological and chemical threat agents, ultimately lightening the load for warfighters.

“All this has to do with nanotechnology, which has to do with reducing large things to about one-thousandth their original size,” said Banks. “Nanotechnology will eventually allow us to miniaturize our detection devices to minimize the burden on our soldiers. This paper describes how we can attach detection materials, electronic devices, and filtration devices (there are several potential spinoffs) to nanoparticles.”

Banks, a 25-year ECBC employee, specializes in computational chemistry, which involves the use of equations to predict such characteristics as reactions, stability and dimensions of molecules. “Computational chemists use computers to predict chemistry,” Banks said, “with the goal of making things safer for laboratory scientists.”

Click here to read the article

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In the Army Now - Officer and Enlisted

The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center blog is kicking off a regular series titled “In the Army Now,” featuring information pieces addressing frequently asked questions about the Army culture and structure. In this month’s “In the Army Now,” we look at the designations of “Officer” and “Enlisted” of the U.S. Army and the Army Materiel Command chain of command.

Enlisted members are the backbone of the U.S. military. They perform the primary jobs that need to be done hands-on. Enlisted members are specialists: they are trained to perform specific specialties in the military. As Enlisted Personnel progress up the ranks (there are nine Enlisted ranks), they assume more responsibility and provide direct supervision to their subordinates. Well-prepared and highly adaptable, Enlisted Soldiers are regarded for their sense of duty and the sacrifices they have made for their country. Much like employees at a company, Enlisted Soldiers perform specific job functions and have the knowledge that ensures the success of their unit’s current mission within the Army.

Training for service members through Private First Class includes the basic training phase, followed by a specialized training phase that provides recruits with a specific area of expertise or concentration. In the Army and Marines, this area is called a Military Occupational Specialty.

Enlisted personnel in certain grades have special status. In the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, this status is known as Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) status. In the Army and Air Force, enlisted personnel that are Sergeant through Command Sergeant Major are NCOs. However, some Specialists are laterally promoted to Corporal and are considered NCOs. Within the worker group, Non-NCOs are the foremen and line-supervisors.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Confirmation Clearance Method for Difficult Vapor Screening Items

By: John Schwarz

The Environmental Monitoring Laboratory-Analytical Chemistry Team (EML-ACT) analyzes nearly 2,000 air samples monthly in support of ECBC surety laboratories, toxic chambers and MRICD laboratories just at Edgewood alone. These air samples support personnel monitoring specific operations, chemical agent room backgrounds, first entry monitoring, fume hood monitoring during standard operating procedures and many sampled items that are just waste material in preparation for disposal.

Also commonly referred to as headspace monitoring, vapor screening of waste material can be very difficult and troublesome. Many of these items require screening for multiple agents due to the way the waste was generated or because little information is known about the waste item. Often, these types of samples have been very difficult to clear for G-type agents due to interferences, or chromatographic "footprints", even when using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS). This resulted in repeated sampling and operations such as "air washing" of waste items. However, these actions are typically met with little success. Last summer, the EML-ACT special project chemist worked with a summer intern to develop an alternative analysis method for these types of samples to determine typical interferences that affect the  ability to clear the troublesome waste analyses. An example of common interference for the analysis of G-type agents was identified as diesel and gasoline. Over the summer, a new analysis method was developed that employed a Flame  Photometric Detector and a Nitrogen Phosphorus Detector coupled with the existing GCMS instrument. This new analysis splits a single sample into three streams for analysis by the specific detectors to determine the presence of Phosphorus and Nitrogen containing compounds while also using the Mass Spectrometer (MS) Detector for a full composition determination. This type of analysis provides the analyst with significantly more information about the sample and increases the confidence in identifying contaminates or chemical agents in a single analysis. Samples that had previously failed due to interferences using only the MS detector can now be cleared using one of the other detectors in this new triple detector analysis.

Today, this method has become a part of routine EML-ACT analysis resulting in faster turnaround of customer results and more efficient use of staff labor.

ECBC Hosting FREE car seat safety inspections on Thursday, July 28

How much do you really know about car seat safety? Sure, you may know not to place car seats in the front seat. You may know that babies need to be in rear facing seats. You may think you know how to place the seat in your car so that it seems snug.

But ask yourself this. How much do you really know? How sure are you that your child’s safety seat is securely in place? Are you clear on the specifics or could you use some more guidance? If your answers to these questions are anything but positive, rest assured, you are not alone!

A surprising 3 out of 4 child safety seats are not installed correctly. Moreover, many other mistakes are made as well, such as allowing children to leave booster seats too early, and placing padded inserts in their seats. Well- intentioned parents and guardians make mistakes that compromise a child’s safety without even realizing they are doing so. Could you be one of them? Let’s do all we can to make sure that we aren’t. Check out a fact sheet we have provided on car seat safety which includes a detailed timeline by which to judge your child’s changing safety seat needs. Also provided on the sheet are a few common mistakes that parents make concerning safety seats. There is also a small section concerning common questions that pregnant women often have relating to their safety when riding in the car.

Even though resources like the fact sheet we have provided and others available online keep us from making common mistakes, there is no substitute for a properly installed car seat. Though parents do their best to install their child’s seat properly and to achieve maximum safety, there is no substitute for having a trained professional examine a seat to make sure it is meeting every requirement. We are pleased to be able to provide you with this opportunity!

Join us Thursday morning , 28 July, to have your car seat individually installed and inspected in your vehicle! As part of ECBC’s annual Organizational Day picnic morning activities, Maryland Kids in Safety Seats (KISS) will be hosting a car seat safety check. From 9 AM to 12 PM, trained KISS professionals will be installing and checking your car seat for proper placement and fit to maximize the safety of your child while riding in the car. The activity will be located in the parking lot of E4650 (the old Gunpowder Club near the pool) and will only take 15 – 20 minutes. It is not necessary to have the child present.

What You Should know About Car Seat Safety

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Novel Idea: New Sorbents to Increase Mask Efficiency and Capabilities

Greg Peterson, left, and Rick Cox discuss metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) in front of the ammonia breakthrough system. The CBR Filtration Branch is currently working on maturing and eventually transitioning MOFs for use as highly effective layers for ammonia (and other TICs) removal in military and industrial filters.

What does nanotechnology – which focuses on matter at the molecular scale – have to do with the bulky masks and filters our warfighters wear for protection against highly toxic compounds?

U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) Principal Investigator Greg Peterson, along with Rick Cox, Ph.D., chief of the Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) Filtration Branch, has been leading efforts at ECBC to use state-of-the-art nanotechnology and materials science to improve mask filtration. The goal is to increase filter and mask efficiency, broaden filter capabilities to meet emerging threats and reduce the burden to the warfighter.

ECBC is working to develop novel, advanced sorbents to replace the current activated carbon used in filters. Carbon has been used in the military for nearly a century to purify air; it is effective against highly toxic compounds such as nerve and blister agents, but less so against highly volatile toxic industrial chemicals (TICs). In addition, activated carbon is relatively inert and must be treated with metal impregnants for maximum performance; carbon can accept only so many impregnants before the pores are clogged and the filter becomes ineffective. The nanotechnology effort involves removing the activated carbon and instead synthesizing highly reactive substrates, thus reducing the volume required to remove TICs.

Warfighters have commented that traditional masks are uncomfortable to wear – they retain heat, they fog up, they impede breathing. The new materials will help reduce breathing resistance and filter volume, ultimately advancing both safety and comfort for warfighters.

In addition to offering improved and broader protection against priority chemicals, the new materials “will provide improved physical characteristics, such as being inherently reactive, offering greater stability and capacity, and being non-flammable,” Peterson said.

“It’s a paradigm shift from a filter capturing something to a filter that’s reactive and not just captures but also destroys a toxic compound,” said Cox.

The scientists stated that the new materials allow for developing different configurations, rather than being confined to the traditional round filter canister. “Now we can make filters that conform to the head or are molded in a comfortable design,” said Peterson. “Newer filters are lighter and more streamlined.” In fact, some new materials were recently incorporated into two novel filter designs in the Future CB Ensemble / Ground Soldier System Technology Demonstration, a program in which personnel from ECBC and the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center jointly developed novel filter concepts for the future force.

Funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Joint Science and Technology Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, ECBC is working with various partners, such as the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of California at Los Angeles, to develop the novel materials. These materials include functionalized carbon nanotubes, metal-organic frameworks, polyoxometalates, carbon-silica composites, organosilicates, and microporous polymers.

“Researchers at the head of their fields are developing these new sorbents,” said Peterson. “We provide the research goals and testing; they build the materials. Our goal is to find the material that gives the warfighter the best protection against the most chemicals.”

Peterson described one of ECBC’s sorbent efforts in an article he cowrote with Joseph Rossin of Guild Associates, Inc. The article, “Replacing a Legacy: A Novel Sorbent for Future Systems,” was accepted for publication by the quarterly Chem-Bio Defense Magazine.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

ECBC's Obscuration and Nonlethal Engineering Branch Continues to Reinforce Importance of Obscuration as Defense Technique

During the Cold War, Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) was the primary producer of lethal chemical munitions used as a deterrent against the threat of chemical and/or biological offensive attacks from the former Soviet Union. Since the United States’ signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, ECBC’s chemical and biological research has been focused on creating defensive posture items for U.S. Forces.

ECBC’s Obscuration and Nonlethal Engineering Branch retains the core expertise of the Center’s former Munitions Directorate, whose mission was to design, develop and produce lethal, nonlethal/riot control, incendiary and smoke/obscurant munitions.

"One of the most important defensive techniques for Warfighters in combat is obscuration," said Obscuration and Nonlethal Engineering Branch Chief Kevin Fritz. "And the ECBC Obscuration and Nonlethal Engineering Branch is the Army’s focal point for smoke payload support - pyrotechnic smoke mixes, obscurants and energetic materials."

Friday, July 15, 2011

ECBC Division Chief Bids Farewell After 26 Years of Federal Service

After 26 years and four months, Wade Kuhlmann, Ph.D., bid farewell to federal service in a retirement ceremony on June 30 attended by dozens of ECBC staff and family members.

Kuhlmann, who served most recently as chief of ECBC’s Chemical and Biological Protection and Decontamination division, was recognized with many honors during the ceremony, including certificates from Gov. Martin O’Malley, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, Sen. Ben Cardin and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, as well as a Commander’s Award for Civilian Service and a U.S. flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in April.

Joseph Wienand, ECBC technical director, stated, “On the occasion of your retirement, I wish to extend to you my personal thanks and the appreciation of the United States Army for the many years of service which you have given to our country. I share your pride in the contributions that you have made to the Army, and I trust that you will maintain an active interest.”

Monday, July 11, 2011

ECBC's Protective Equipment Test Branch Collaborates to Enhance Branch Capabilities

ECBC’s Protective Equipment Test Branch (PET) knows firsthand that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

Since Spring of 2010, the team has experienced a temporary downtime as needed upgrades to their existing test labs are made. Included in the upgrades are enhancements to the labs’ air handlers and exhaust fans, added redundancies in the labs to improve safety and augmented temperature control.

Heeding to the old adage that "it will get worse before it gets better," PET Branch personnel anticipated the potential interruption and took action. Prior to construction on the labs, branch personnel worked tirelessly to coordinate the shift of the branch’s test capabilities to other areas within PET as well as to ECBC’s Research and Technology Directorate (R&T). This shift required additional cooperation and support from Safety and Environmental personnel of the ECBC Directorate of Program Integration and personnel of TACOM Rock Island to ensure that Standing Operating Procedures and waste management Laboratory Certifications were appropriately transitioned.

Christine’s Odyssey: Volunteers from ECBC complete a customized, climate controlled helmet to save the life of a young woman

Due to the sensitivity of this recovery story, the last names of "Christine" and her relatives have been withheld for privacy reasons.

After two years of chronic pain, Christine is finally living a normal life again, thanks to the work of numerous volunteers from the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), community volunteers and the support of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

A Canadian native, Christine is a 22 year-old who had been confined to the inside of her home due to her extreme sensitivity to temperatures, smells, air movement and touch. Temperatures outside a strict range of 88-93 degrees Fahrenheit – hotter or colder – were unbearable for her. The faintest of breezes caused severe pain. Her sense of smell was intensified; background scents or odors were interpreted as pungent and nauseating. Eating hurt and was a chore; in order to avoid the painful movement of her hair across her face and head, she shaved it.

Christine didn’t always have these exaggerated senses.

"She is borderline genius, an extremely intelligent individual who was eager to return to her normal way of life," said Mark Schlein, ECBC’s ADM Division Chief. "As the head of her household at such a young age, it was imperative that she get healthy."