A new chamber is under construction at Dugway Proving Ground, to test chemical agent detectors with the growing threat of airborne solid particles or liquid droplets. For more than 100 years, chemical weapons have most often been used as vapor or gas. More recently, their use as solid particles or liquid droplets has emerged as a new threat, according to Test Officer Matt McCarty of the Chemical Test Division of DPG’s West Desert Test Center.

Test Officer Liliana Mada noted that DPG can currently do vapor and liquid chemical agent testing, but there is a need for chemical particle testing to support the Next Generation of Chemical Detectors (NGCD) program already underway.

As the Army works to develop chemical agent detectors with the capability to accurately detect and identify this newer threat, DPG also requires a test fixture to create particles and droplets. Hence, the Particulate Aerosol Detector Fixture (PADF) in a glovebox, developed at DPG to not only create solid particles or liquid droplets, but to challenge chemical detectors in varying humidity and agent concentrations.

“We want to provide the most accurate data possible to help the Army ensure that these new detectors can warn warfighters and keep them safe,” McCarty said.

Placing the PADF in a glovebox makes the system more portable if needed, and may later allow the addition of other capabilities, such as temperature control.  Installing the PADF within the glovebox is expected to be completed by the end of October, but the wiring and other connections may take the rest of the year.

Design and development by the test center’s engineering group began more than a year ago. Lead engineer for PADF is Sipex Sun. Other engineers are Greg Dahlstrom and Robert Trevino. Engineering Branch Chief is Cristian Tabara. Project Scientists are C.B. Wang and Wes Ercanbrack. Test Instrumentation is by Branch Chief Ross Lang, along with Bryan Warr and Wayne Taylor.