Pine Bluff Arsenal’s Directorate of Chemical and Biological Defense Operations personnel are good at their jobs. The directorate’s production personnel make a variety of chemical/biological products used by our Nation’s joint force. However, when something isn’t working right, the CBD team tries to find the best solution to the problem.
When issues started to occur with the filter media being used for the M98 Particulate Filters, CBD engineers and production personnel worked to figure out a resolution to the issue.
“We started having problems getting good media for these filters,” said Jerry Hardman, Industrial Engineer with the CBD directorate.
Hardman said the original filter media was good until it got wet. “Then it didn’t pass our tests,” he said. “At that time, we started to find other sources for the filter media. We found some but discovered even though it looked good, the media would wear in shipping, and arrive with holes in it. Ultimately, we decide to just make our own.”
Time was spent researching what type of equipment was out there, and what would work best for PBA, said Hardman. “The biggest challenge was finding someone with a U.S. office for the equipment since everything we were finding was overseas,” he said. “We got the pleating machine from a company overseas. I spoke with people at the company while I was teleworking due to the pandemic. We went back and forth on a few things and got the ball rolling.”
The pleating machine was ordered. Now it was time to get the paper. “It is a special order paper. The pleating machine folds the paper, glues and makes a fold that tears,” said Hardman. “To have a one day start up and already be producing a successful first article test is significant,” said Hardman.
Two filter testing machines are located on PBA. One is at the large filter production line (particulate and resistance tester) and the other (a DMP tester which tests gas life) is located at the Quality Evaluation Facility.
Training on the pleating machine and First Article Testing on the filter samples was completed in early May, according to John Burkhead, director. “Ten FAT samples performed very good and passed efficiency testing here on post,” said Burkhead, in an email. “The samples were packed and have been shipped to Edgewood, Maryland for testing.”
Steven Gray, chief, Chemical Biological Production Division, said it was probably the best set of ten FAT samples he had ever seen produced during his time at the Arsenal. “We have had FAT samples from other manufacturers, however, these tested at approximately 100 percent filtration efficiency,” he said. “The new testing equipment we have on post is basically what Design West has.”
PBA has an established partnership with Design West in large filter production of the M49 120 CFM (cubic feet per minute) gas filter Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Filter sets as well as in some mobile applications. These ICBM filter sets provide chemical and biological protection for employees at the control centers at Missile Alert Facilities. The filters are also used in a series in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning or HVAC systems at the facilities.
Additional equipment is expected to be added to the filter media pleating production area, including a new HVAC system, and full production is set to happen in June/July timeframe.