Testing Nonthermal Plasma for Decontamination of Sensitive Weapons Systems and Platforms
Final rept. 2010-2011
OAK RIDGE NATIONAL LAB TN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIV
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Efficient decontamination of military platforms and systems represents the first line of defense and protection for U.S. warfighters. Using solvents, wet decontamination approach generates secondary pollution and requires extra care of the contaminated solutions afterwards. The wet approach could also degrade material integrity of the treated platforms and systems. Alternative decontamination technique that does not erode the integrity and not produce secondary contamination is required. Nonthermal plasma was tested as a decontamination alternative for a number of pollutants in this project. A radiofrequency- powered nonthermal plasma technique was applied to biological aerosols, oil and grease, and paint- stained airframe structural material. Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and aerosol monitoring techniques were used to assess the effectiveness of the plasma decontamination technique. The nonthermal plasma technique was found to be useful in the cleanup of the stained surface, reduce the potency of the biological agents, and maintain the surface structure intact. Time- sequenced Raman analysis on biological aerosols indicates the antigens were either vaporized or decomposed during the treatment. Optical emission spectroscopy, aerosol electrometer, and scanning mobility particle sizer were used to monitor the nanoparticles and charges emissions during the treatment of oil and CWA-contaminated surface. ELISA assay shows the reduction and or elimination of the antigens, although scanning electron microscopy indicates the morphology of the biological agents remain unchanged by the plasma treatment. The technique does not produce secondary pollutants, is fairly safe to material and reasonably easy to operate. The technique is not a line- of- sight technique therefore it can be used to remove effectively organic contaminants and bioaerosols on a range of complex surfaces.
- Chemical, Biological and Radiological Warfare
- Atomic and Molecular Physics and Spectroscopy