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FAST & Forward Dry Decontamination

Soldier Modernisation talks to Dr. Dieter Rothbacher

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Dr. Dieter Rothbacher

Dr. Dieter Rothbacher, graduate from the Austrian Military Academy, military rank lieutenant colonel (NATO OF-4), is the owner and CEO of CBRN Protection GmbH, an Austrian company specialized in CBRNE with more than 25 years of experience in the area of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Materials(CBRN) and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD); Timilon Consultant/Business Development and CBRNe Expert.

The threat of chemical attack means military personnel/warfighters need to be able to take immediate decontamination measures.

The US company Timilon has three innovative products that allow immediate and emergency response to these attacks through the FAST-ACT® 400g cylinder and FAST-ACT® Decontamination gloves and wipes.

Q: Could we discuss the uses of these products and which situations they can be used in?

A: The range of physical, chemical and toxicological properties of Toxic Industrial Chemicals (Hazardous Materials) and Chemical Warfare Agents presents a considerable challenge for their destruction and detoxification by decontamination formulations and procedures which may well be effective for Chemical Warfare Agent contamination. For treatment of such military and civilian incidents various products are employed: acid and base neutralizers, all-purpose absorbents, oil only absorbents, hazardous liquid absorbents, spill kits, decontaminating liquids and foams, spill containment and material handling products.

Only one product can deal with all of these incidents and chemicals: First Applied Sorbent Treatment - Against Chemical Threats FAST-ACT®

FAST-ACT® is a proprietary formulation of non-toxic high-performance specialty materials effective at decontaminating, neutralizing and destroying (neutralizing) a wide range of Toxic Industrial Chemicals and Chemical Warfare Agents. We call it DECON - DEcontamination, COntainment and Neutralization.

Q: If we specifically look at the FAST-ACT® 400g cylinder, this is an extremely light weight effective solution; could you explain more and who is using it?

A: The 400g cylinder is new to our portfolio. It has officially been introduced to the US military market during CBOA 2024, with great success and very positive feedback from the various military teams participating in the event.

Our pressurized cylinders are designed to treat liquids and vapor hazards, making this technology truly unique and versatile, eliminating the need for ancillary equipment or multiple products.

The 400g cylinder can be used to knock down toxic vapors when encountering high concentrations of harmful chemicals in the air, mainly indoors, but also outdoors. It furthermore is used for emergency decontamination of various surfaces, equipment (including sensitive equipment) and responders/military personnel in protective clothing. Field trials have shown that one cylinder is enough to successfully decontaminate up to three people in protective clothing.

With the 400g cylinder the military user is in possession of a quick and effective tool to perform emergency decontamination fast and forward, without having to rely on other resources like sprayers and water.

Q: The FAST-ACT® gloves and wipes are extremely beneficial to individuals to decontaminate skin and equipment. The FAST-ACT® gloves and wipes are classed as Medical Class 1 devices in the EU; could you explain the different usage and effectiveness?

A: A rigorous toxicity evaluation of FAST-ACT® components has revealed that there are no safety hazards. Extensive toxicity testing (oral, dermal irritation, dermal sensitization, eye irritation and inhalation) has been carried out on FAST-ACT® and its components by USCHPPM (US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine), Aberdeen MD and MPI Research, Mattawan, MI and proven the formulation to be non-toxic. The formulation is non-corrosive. The results of these tests confirmed the safe use on skin.

The FAST-ACT® Decontamination Mitt and Wipes are designated through CE mark (EU) certification as a Class 1 Non-Sterile Medical Device for an applicational dual-use for the immediate/emergency decontamination of chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial materials on skin and surfaces. The Decontamination Mitt is also TGA (Australia) approved as a Medical Device Class 1 for intact skin. The Decontamination Wipes are furthermore certified for the removal of radioactive particles from surfaces and skin.

Q: Who has tested and verified these products and how long has it taken to bring the products to military usage?

A: Chemical Warfare Agents can only be destroyed if their chemical structure is modified. FAST-ACT® destroys these agents by supporting immediate reactions such as hydrolysis and dehalogenation. Blistering agents are also neutralized by FAST-ACT® through hydrolysis and dehydrohalogenation reactions.

FAST-ACT®'s effectiveness against CWAs has been validated by two independent laboratories: Battelle in Columbus, OH-Surface Decontamination and SBCCOM (ECBC) in Edgewood, MD-Chemical Reactivity.

FAST-ACT® is proven to remove over 99.6% of VX, GD (soman) and HD (mustard “gas”) from surfaces, thus meeting the applicable NATO standard.

The FAST-ACT® mitts were tested under field conditions and challenged with HD and VX, using them on metal plates contaminated with the equivalent of 10g/m2 and 30g/m2.

The residual contamination density was always below the NATO permissible limit of 10µg/cm2 (HD) and 1 µg/cm2 (VX).

In addition to the Chemical Warfare Agents, FAST-ACT® was found to destroy simulants of chemical warfare nerve, mustard, blood and choking agents.

FAST-ACT® is very effective and fast at absorbing and neutralizing acids with the formation of metal salts. Neutralization of acids upon exposure to FAST-ACT® was determined based on pH measurements after water addition to the treated powder. The formulation has been tested with hydrochloric, nitric, phosphoric and sulfuric acids. Upon treatment with FAST-ACT®, the pH is brought up to a safe range (from 0 to 9-11) within two minutes of contact.

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