DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah -- Dugway personnel are testing a variety of chemical analyzers to validate procedures that will more precisely identify chemical agents and toxic industrial chemicals after an attack or industrial incident.
Testing of the Common Analytical Laboratory System, or CALS, will enable military operators of portable labs and hand-carried analyzers to identify chemical and biological threats with greater accuracy. Dugway is validating procedures for chemical analyzers; Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center in Maryland will validate procedures for biological analyzers later this year.
The CALS test is in three phases, with phases one and two at Dugway; the third phase is at Edgewood. Petr Serguievski, test officer for the CALS test at Dugway, said that testing involves challenging commercially available chemical analyzers with chemical agents and toxic industrial chemicals. Some analyzers are currently in use by U.S. forces.
"CALS has a different mission than typical detectors, like JCAD (a brick-sized Joint Chemical Agent Detector used by U.S. forces)," Serguievski said. "While JCAD's primary purpose is to warn of a hazard, CALS is tasked with confirmation and identification."
Testing of CALS analyzers is both developmental and operational, Serguievski noted. Developmental testing verifies that the chemical analyzer meets all technical requirements. Operational testing uses production representative systems and procedures, with Dugway test personnel acting as users.
Part of each CALS phase includes testing for reliability, availability and maintainability: "How well it stands up to handling, how easily it's repaired," Serguievski said. "This information is used to determine the logistical needs and maintenance requirements."
During Dugway testing, analyzers of various types are tested in a glove box -- a sealed chamber that allows equipment to be manipulated with chemically impermeable gloves. Inside the glove box, analyzers are exposed to chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals typically encountered in a clandestine lab or industrial accident.
Because a chemical attack or incident could be anywhere, in any season, the chamber's environment is adjustable, exposing analyzers to temperature and humidity extremes while procedures are validated.
Dugway's phase one CALS test challenges portable chemical analyzers, small enough to be carried, that identify chemical threats in liquid, solid or air samples. Phase two at Dugway will challenge bench top analyzers for a mobile lab that can identify, with higher specificity, a wider range of chemicals at lower levels.
"It's kind of a full-feature lab that can handle sample extraction and analysis using a variety of techniques, like a gas chromatograph, liquid chromatograph, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy," Serguievski said.
Setup for the Dugway phases of CALS began in March, and included training for each of the test's dozen personnel. Testing is 24 hours a day, five days a week, to maximize the efficient use of labs, equipment and the portable chambers, Serguievski said. CALS testing at Dugway is expected to continue into 2017.
Ultimately, the CALS test will ensure that U.S. service members, employing uniform procedures validated in Utah and Maryland, may trust their analyzers to accurately identify a chemical or biological threat and easily share the information among services.
U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground is the nation's designated Major Range and Test Facility Base for Chemical and Biological Defense (C/B) Testing and Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Support, conducting efficient testing and support to enable our nation's defenders to counter chemical, biological, radiological, and explosives (CBRE) hazards. Dugway Proving Ground provides unparalleled testing, evaluation, training, and technical support to the Department of Defense, inter-agency partners, and our Allies. For more information, visit our website at www.dugway.army.mil and join us on Facebook (official) at www.facebook.com/USArmyDPG.