Syria's regime announced for the first time this week that it has chemical weapons, and stands ready to use them if attacked. A new type of paint could potentially guard against it, protecting tanks and armored vehicles with a special chemical-absorbing topcoat.
Scientists at the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, like a British DARPA, worked with a company called AkzoNobel to develop the paint. It contains super absorbent silica gel, the same stuff that comes in those little bead-packets inside new shoeboxes and bags. The material can absorb chemicals, like maybe nerve gas, before they could reach a vehicle's interior.
It would be a nice topcoat for a special type of paint that can be easily peeled off. This could make it easier to clean — when the nerve gas is soaked up, and the tank is back in a safe area, soldiers could just peel off the paint and throw it away. The Engineer says the paint is sticky like a Post-It is sticky — adhesive enough to hold it in place, but easy to remove.
AkzoNobel will produce the absorbent paint in standard military camouflage colors, and it's likely to be used on the UK's Warrior tanks, according to the Engineer. Eventually the company wants to produce color-changing paint that would alert a tank's occupants they are under chemical attack. But as Technology Review notes, this is somewhat an odd idea because color-changing would sort of ruin the whole camouflage concept.
AkzoNobel also wants to produce a paint that not only absorbs noxious chemicals, but neutralizes them, the Engineer says. Apparently one research team at Vermont University added vanadium to a silica mix, which reacts with mustard gas to render it harmless. Presumably other catalysts could be added to oxidize other chemicals.
Syria is believed to have mustard gas, along with nerve gases including tabun, sarin and VX, according to the Washington Post. A paint like this could potentially help if Bashar Assad's regime does decide to deploy its weapons. The absurdly complex military procurement process could mean it will be a while before anyone slathers this paint on a coalition tank. But if it works, it may be worth a try.
"stands ready to use them if attacked" Love how you made "stands ready to use them" in bold, and leave "if attacked" as plain text..
Sounds like a defensive move, maybe the bullies should just leave that little kid alone.
So.... the tank will not die?! Were we worried if the tanks were going to get sick and die? Isn't the point of poison gas to kill people! But hey, I am all for the survival of machines. Long live ROBOTS!
The most dangerous chemical weapons are deployed as a liquid aerosol (tiny drops) that can accumulate on surfaces.
In most situations, the chemicals will breakdown or be absorbed within hours or days. On vehicles, there are many nooks and crannies where the liquid can hide for decades. Even the tiniest drops of nerve agent on the skin can kill.
Once exposed (or believed to be exposed) to nerve agent, a vehicle will be treated as contaminated for life. Meaning, if you want to touch the vehicle, you have to wear gloves. If you want to operate the vehicle, you have to wear full body protection. Essentially, you will never be able to get near that vehicle again without wearing protection.
For those that have not had the pleasure of wearing full chemical protection (MOPP 4), I assure you it can make even the simplest task challenging.
So, even if the enemy doesn't kill you with their nerve agent, they can dramatically slow you down by forcing you in perpetual MOPP 4 until you can replace your vehicles.
Good information. I suppose making useless our weapons of destruction with chemical weapons would apply to all our weapons from human handeling.
We need some Battle Mechs...from Mechwarrior, so then we won't have to put humans in battle...sort of...
How do you attack and stop a country that has stocked piles lots of Chemical Weapons like Syria? While it maybe justified to go in and attempt to stop this chaos, it seems easily enough in attacking, we migh accidently release gas in our assault.