Army’s new fabric works to destroy nerve agents

Nerve agents are some of the deadliest substances on the planet. From Sarin gas, which turns the human nervous system against itself, to ...


Nerve agents are some of the deadliest substances on the planet. From Sarin gas, which turns the human nervous system against itself, to mustard gas, which burns on contact and disrupts respiratory function, these often unseen chemicals are ones the Army sees as not only worth protecting against, but working to destroy.

A new fabric, generated by Omar Farha’s lab at Northwestern University with cooperation from the U.S. Army, is intended to do just that.

“With the correct chemistry, we can render toxic gases nontoxic,” Farha, associate professor of chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, said in a release. “The action takes place at the nanolevel.”

In simple terms, the fabric will have a coating made of a molecule called MOF-808 that renders VX and Soman, which can cripple the human nervous system, ineffective because it pulls “water from the air,” Futurism reported. Essentially, if or when a nerve agent comes in contact with the fabric coating, the water destroys it.

“MOFs can capture, store and destroy a lot of the nasty material, making them very attractive for defense-related applications,” Farha noted in the release.

The coating for the fabric is the result of 10 years spent working to develop more chemically protective Army uniforms, Wired reported. Currently, the service has fabric that absorbs the effects of nerve agents, but does not neutralize them.

Wired also reported that the fabric works as long as it’s in an environment with at least 30 percent humidity, adding that, when tested for breathability, it performed even better when an excess level of perspiration was involved… because of the added moisture. For soldiers, perhaps soon, nerve agents will be no sweat.

U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers and senior leaders from the 200th Military Police Command and its Headquarters Company stand in formation wearing their protective masks during a field training exercise.
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 200th Military Police Command and its Headquarters Company stand in formation wearing their protective masks during a field training exercise.200th Military Police Command

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Newsrust: Army’s new fabric works to destroy nerve agents
Army’s new fabric works to destroy nerve agents
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