Can the Activated Carbon that is Currently Used in the NBC Protective Wear Be Replaced
For ages, activated carbon has been unarguably the most preferred material for chemical warfare protective clothing by armies across the globe. Although the morphology in which it is used has changed from granular form to fiber form, there has not been much change in the chemical composition or functionality (ASZM-TEDA grade). In this paper we investigate to find out if there is a possibility of replacement of the activated carbon by other materials. Before we find the answer to this question, it is important to reason out why replacement is thought of in the first place. Activated carbon is a versatile material that brings with it several good qualities like large surface area, adsorptive nature, fire-resistant, robustness and availability of aplenty. Some of its disadvantages include heavy weight and low breathability (moist activated carbon will adsorb oxygen from the environment causing breathing difficulties). One other disadvantage which is often overlooked by the user is the disposal of the suits after usage. Activated carbon merely adsorbs the nerve and mustard agents and once they become saturated, they are classified as hazardous materials necessitating safe disposal. The used wear is normally sent back to the supplier of manufacturer where it would be essentially decontaminated by bleaching and then disposed by incineration or landfill. Thus, if there is a material that can ensure breathability is of light weight and has the capacity to decontaminate the adsorbed warfare agents in situ, it would be ideal for use in the protective clothing. In this paper novel electrospun ceramic nanostructures are introduced which are capable of reactive decontamination of nerve and mustard agents. The decontamination efficiencies of the ceramic nanofibers are presented as tested against simulants of nerve and mustard agents. Electrospinning was chosen as the fabrication method because it is a simple traditional technique that is capable of manufacturing nano sized structures in a large scale. Moreover, electrospun materials possess more activity due to their surface charge density. The contribution of nano-size scale to the reactivity of the fibers is shown. All these project the electrospun nanostructured ceramics as the best possible substitutes to activated carbon.
William Lau, Shang Huai Min, Lee Nam Sua, Ma Jan and Alfred Tok
R. Ramakrishnan et al., "Can the Activated Carbon that is Currently Used in the NBC Protective Wear Be Replaced", Solid State Phenomena, Vol. 136, pp. 1-22, 2008