Texas Researchers Develop System To Neutralize Hazardous Materials

The Southwest Research Institute's system captures combusted byproducts without compromising the surrounding environment.

Mnet 106001 Chemical Weapons

A Texas nonprofit research group recently detailed a new process to eradicate harmful materials without compromising the surrounding environment.

Current methods to neutralize chemical agents create hazardous byproducts, but the system developed by the Southwest Research Institute funnels exhaust gas through an engine thermal destruction device to capture combusted materials.

The system is ideal for use in arid environments, while a Canadian company developed a liquid scrubber system that could be deployed in wet conditions.

Both systems are designed to fit into a large shipping container — for easy transportation to hazardous sites — and they each utilize local soil, which remains non-hazardous and eliminates the need to transport water to sites or ship waste material to a treatment facility.

Officials said that the system was validated in recent tests and will be evaluated using authentic chemical agents this summer.

The San Antonio nonprofit helped develop the system in response to a call from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“It is in our national interest to have a field operable unit that can safely dispose of chemical warfare agents and other dangerous chemicals on the front lines in a timely manner,” said Darrel Johnston, a senior program manager in SwRI’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division.

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