Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD -- Technologies developed by the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) Chemical Biological Center are some of the most advanced in the world, however they do not actually benefit the warfighter until they can be mass produced by industry and placed into their hands.
That is why the Center is so proud of the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) it has signed with Clear Scientific, Inc. to commercialize a technology five years in the making that will give warfighters a chemical agent decontamination spray to use on vehicles exposed to agent. The 18-employee Cambridge, Mass., company was founded in 2019 and specializes in chemical biological defense technology.
“Over the last five years we have developed a very effective, easy to use spray we call The Sprayable Decontaminant Slurry that Soldiers can use just as soon as their vehicle is exposed to chemical agent,” said Joseph Myers, a Center research chemist and leader of the research team that created it. “Over the last year, the slurry technology has been demonstrated to warfighters in both the European and Pacific theater.” The feedback from warfighters was very positive for the slurry, so the technology was deemed ready for commercialization.
But commercialization doesn’t just happen. The Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering administers a program called the Rapid Innovation Fund or RIF. Its purpose is to provide funding for small businesses allowing them to bring an emerging technology to the point where it is close to being ready for mass production and acquisition. Small businesses interested in participating have to compete for each grant by producing a three-page white paper and a quad chart explaining exactly how they will make the technology commercially ready.
“We have worked on CRADAs with the Chemical Biological Center before,” said Michael White, Ph.D., director of research and development for Clear Scientific, Inc. “So we knew their scientists have a really deep expertise in this area. We knew that Joe’s team had taken their formulation to a pretty advanced stage. We also knew that we liked working with them.”
Clear Scientific has two years, starting from the award date of August 2019 to provide a deliverable to the U.S. Army Joint Program Manager for Protection (JPM P), 40 gallons of slurry plus spray applicators for further developmental testing in the field. Their focus will be on making sure that all of the slurry’s ingredients can be readily sourced and lend themselves to mass production, while also ensuring the slurry and hardware can perform in the field.
If the JPM P field testing is successful, Myers estimates that it will take a further two years to produce the quantities necessary for full fielding. In the meantime, Myers research team will continue to work closely with White’s research team.
“The Clear Scientific and CBC teams will continue to collaborate to fine tune the slurry formulation to make it an effective decontaminant and to make it easier to commercialize” said Myers. White describes his research team of Ph.D. chemists as very excited by this opportunity. “They love being in the lab, making it, and watching it perform. But most important, they want to see it go into the field where it will protect Soldiers.”