Army advances bio-threat detector
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Army advances bio-threat detector
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ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (Jan. 21, 2015) -- The U.S. Army's second-generation Tactical Biological Detector, or TACBIO, will provide Soldiers with a lightweight, low-power, highly effective biological detector, officials said.

The Army introduced the original TACBIO in 2010, and it was named to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Top 10 List of Excellent Technologies.

A team of scientists and engineers from the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, or ECBC, advanced the TACBIO into a more capable and lower cost detector called the TACBIO Gen II.

The new design captures performance and cost advantages associated with plastic parts.

The TACBIO Gen II is designed to rapidly detect the presence of an aerosolized biological threat and to provide an early warning to minimize exposure and casualties to the warfighter. The device exploits the scientific principle that biological aerosols will fluoresce and scatter light when exposed to ultraviolet light.

These signals can be used to detect the existence of a threat by using a light emitting diode developed under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency that replaces the larger and more costly UV lasers.

The detector is made of plastic, weighs three pounds three ounces and has a simple design that makes it easy to manufacture. ECBC designed, built and tested the system.

In quantities of more than 10,000 detectors, the TACBIO Gen II costs only $2,000, an $8,000 decrease from the first-generation TACBIO.

"With the cost per detector cheaper in bulk, it helps the Army and other users to perform raid detection where they can set out multiple detectors in a space," said Aime Goad, acting chief of ECBC's Sensors, Signatures and Aerosol Technologies branch. "More detectors mean less false positives with biological detection, ensuring that users can make accurate and fast decisions based on the detector results."

The TACBIO Gen II is small and light enough to be put out as a network and mounted to vehicles, robots, unmanned aerial vehicles and more to detect the presence of a biological threat.

Now that the detector is in use, Goad imagines several uses for the technology outside of the Army to the other services and civilian use.

The technology in the TACBIO Gen II could be changed to become an environmental detector to monitor air quality in hospitals, the Federal Aviation Administration could use it to monitor air quality during flights, or it could even be used in households to monitor for things like fungus or mold.

As a part of ECBC's Innovative Proposal Program, researchers are exploring the capabilities of how TACBIO Gen II is used to detect chemical agent.

ECBC transitioned the TACBIO Gen II to private industry through a patent licensing agreement and a cooperative research and development agreement for large-scale distribution and fielding. ECBC won the 2012 Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Outstanding Technology Transfer.

The TACBIO and TACBIO Gen II have also earned two U.S. patents.


The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to develop technology and engineering solutions for America's Soldiers.

RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command. AMC is the Army's premier provider of materiel readiness--technology, acquisition support, materiel development, logistics power projection and sustainment--to the total force, across the spectrum of joint military operations. If a Soldier shoots it, drives it, flies it, wears it, eats it or communicates with it, AMC provides it.

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U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center