Project engineers Justin Lieber and Allen Dehaghani with Pine Bluff Arsenal's Directorate of Engineering and Technology have been re-engineering the fill line used for the sorbent fill for the M295 decontamination kits. This line is now being used to fill the larger M100 Sorbent Decontamination system.

Instead of re-designing the entire M295 line, the engineers have changed out the filling equipment to accommodate larger bags and changed filling cycle times. "Both products can now be made on that same line," said Lieber. "I doubt they will ever run concurrently, but there are two fill towers on that line so they could if needed."

Similar to the M295, which are individual equipment decon kits, the M100 SDS intended use is to remove chemical agents from surfaces. According to information from Lieber and Arsenal engineering fact sheets, the M100 replaces the M11 and M13, and is used to decontaminate vehicles, crew-served weapons systems and equipment. Use of the M100 SDS also decreases decontamination time and eliminates the need for water.

"We have made the M100 in the past but received the sorbent bags already filled as government-furnished material. All we had to do was pack them out," said Lieber. "Since we already filled the M295s, why not do the same for the M100s. So, now we have operators filling those bags for the M100s, sealing them, putting lot numbers on them and packing them out."

The powdered sorbent is not intended for skin decontamination, and is filled under nitrogen in a cabinet. According to information from Lieber, the sorbent degrades after being exposed to moisture and carbon dioxide and becomes less reactive.

"The moment we fill the bags, they are sealed," he said, explaining that the bags are much bigger than the ones filled for the M295. "They are filled to approximately 250 grams. They have to hit that minimum. We can overfill as long as we can seal them. The system is a bit finicky because the sorbent is so fine and dusty."

Since the filling operation for the M100 is new, a first article test had to be completed. "We did first article three weeks ago and passed. Environmental testing on the item is still ongoing," said Lieber. "We also passed the initial ambient testing."

Lieber said that environmental testing consists of three things: testing for long term storage, temperature shock and low pressure.

"The temperature shock portion of the testing is complete. The long term storage portion takes 12 weeks, which is the bulk of the testing portion," he said. "Engineering and Technology's Production Evaluation Laboratory (PEL) is doing all three tests. They are also doing a mounted vibration test, where you put the product on a bracket and shake it. These are all done in-house."

Once the long-term storage testing is done, the sorbent is taken to the Quality Evaluation Facility and tested for reactivity. "This is done after every environmental test," said Lieber. "We should be good to go once all the testing is done. It will just be fine tuning after that point."

Production is expected to start March 2014, according to Lieber. "We will fill approximately 40,000 bags (two bags each) for 20,000 kits for TACOM," he said.