Thursday November 8, 2012
What is it?
The U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) has developed the Tactical Biological (TAC-BIO) detector that protects Soldiers and first responders from airborne biological threats. The portable biological agent sensor is a revolutionary device that uses only four percent of the power of earlier technologies, is half the size and weighs 80 percent less. New models have also been weatherproofed and ruggedized to meet the needs of military operations. Once deployed, the device's early warning system alerts downwind personnel of a biological agent attack, minimizing the time U.S. Army forces are exposed and preventing casualties.
What has the Army done?
Using an emerging technology called semiconductor ultraviolet optical sources (SUVOS), the TAC-BIO device is able to detect biological agents like anthrax when the aerosols fluoresce and scatter light in a specific, identifiable manner. The development of cutting edge optics and optical integration has resulted in five patents and earned ECBC the Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer from the Federal Laboratory Consortium in 2012.
The innovative TAC-BIO team explored large-scale production options with industrial partners before entering into non-exclusive patent license agreements and cooperative research and development agreements (CRADA) with General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products in October 2009 and Research International Inc., in May 2010. The collaborative effort significantly improved the unit's maintenance interval, giving it longer life, and modified the detection algorithms that reduced false alarms.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The TAC-BIO technology has been proposed as a solution for a current $117 million Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition. Meanwhile, licensees continue to explore markets with other U.S. government agencies and foreign allies as well as state and local first responders. Efforts to improve the product's speed, durability, distribution and fielding would allow both military and domestic agencies utilize a high volume of devices in order to detect small-scale, localized biological threats.
Why is this important to the Army?
As part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, the Center shares the vision of becoming the premier source of integrated solutions that empower the national defense community and protect the warfighter against evolving CBRNE threats. The TAC-BIO work done by ECBC at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., has been recognized as a critical national asset in the chemical biological defense community.
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