Breathable Butyl Rubber for Chemical Agent Protection

Period of Performance: 11/01/2001 - 04/30/2002

$100K

Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

TDA Research, Inc.
12345 W. 52nd Ave. Array
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Research Institution

University of Colorado Boulder
572 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
Institution POC

Abstract

Defense against chemical weapons is a critical DOD requirement. An effective defense requires the development of unique clothing systems that are a physical barrier to toxic vapors, liquids, and aerosols. In addition, the protective material must be permeable to water to reduce incapacitating heat stress, and must be lightweight, flexible, and cost effective. Materials currently in use by DOD are effective barriers to chemical and biological weapons but they are not permeable to water vapor and produce dangerous heat stress and are bulky, severely reducing maneuverability and the overall effectiveness of the wearer. TDA Research, Inc. proposes to develop a breathable protective clothing material from polymerizable surfactants and butyl rubber. The surfactants will form a continuous porous structure with nanometer scale pores large enough to allow water vapor to pass while preventing chemical agents from reaching the wearer. Our approach will use a unique family of polymerizable surfactants and an innovative two step process for forming stable nano-porous structures in the vulcanized butyl rubber. The porous structure of cross-linked butyl rubber films will be characterized and the permeation of water vapor and chemical warfare agent simulants will be quantified.The development of a breathable clothing material for chemical agent protection would be a very significant benefit to the armed forces and civilian defense. Currently, individuals wearing a protective suit are very limited in the amount of physical activity they can endure without the use of a cooling vest or external air supply. The commercial application of this technology would be to manufacture clothing materials for garments produced for the armed forces and civilian defense as a means to protect against chemical warfare or terrorism. Additionally there will be markets for personal protection in industries that handle or produce dangerous chemicals.