|New Badge Detects Harmful Chemical Components|
New Badge Detects Harmful Chemical Components
By Lt. Col. Guy C. Thompson, Air Force Research Lab Public Affairs.
Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts -- (AFPN) March 12, 2002 -- The space vehicles directorate here has developed a hazardous chemical detection badge that is expressly tailored for the warfighter.
People can wear the badge to detect exposure to hazardous chemicals and document total dosage.
"The badge can detect six different types of contaminants from nerve gases to toxic industrial chemicals," said Dr. Edmond Murad, technical adviser for the Space Weather Center of Excellence and project lead.
"There are several scenarios for using the badges," said Catina Sparaco, the Electronic Systems Center product manager for the badge. "In one scenario, the badge can be worn individually to provide the warfighter with an audible warning of exposure to hazardous chemicals."
The idea for the badge came to Charles Pike in 1995, when he was the chief of the spacecraft interactions branch for the advanced weapons directorate. He held a brainstorming session to discuss ways to detect the chemical components of rocket fuels and their signatures resulting from space-environment interaction.
"We had a very intense space flight program then, having conducted experiments on 25 space shuttle missions," said Pike, now the branch chief of the space vehicles’ technology outreach branch.
Pike recognized that the same detection methods used to detect rocket fuel, which is a toxic chemical, in space missions could be applied on a somewhat smaller level, such as a badge.
"Each badge has an array of sensors, which are about the size of a postage stamp," he said. "A badge can be modified depending on the components you want to detect, so sensors can be changed out for different missions."
The project received the attention and endorsement of the Department of Defense after the Japan sarin gas incident, Murad said. The badges are currently being field tested by civil engineers.
"The badge is relatively cheap and is disposable," Pike said. "I think it has significant potential."