ECBC, NSRDEC partner for Soldier respiratory protection

U.S. Army illustration

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. — ECBC has partnered with the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), Battelle Memorial Institute, and Priority Designs, to develop an improved neck-up personal protective equipment (PPE) concept.

The new concept will improve the historically challenging interface where a warfighter’s protective mask and hood meet, in order to provide greater protection from exposure to chemical and biological warfare agents. The development of this concept supports NSRDC’s Integrated Protective Fabric System program, and is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. The new design offers significant protection capability for the improvement of aerosol protection when paired with the hood.

ECBC, NSRDEC, Priority Design and Battelle, developed a second skin which sits over the top of the M50 mask respirator. The prototype, like a second skin which sits over the top of the M50 mask respirator, offers many enhancements such as an added ridge and interface for the hood. In addition to the second skin, the team has developed several prototypes for an upgraded hood can work in tangent with the M50 second skin. The second skin needs to be properly integrated with hoods, which are a key part of a warfighter’s PPE. Hoods are designed to provide chemical agent liquid splash and aerosol protection over the Warfighters head and upper shoulders. When worn with the protective suit, the hood offers complete coverage from exposure.

The team down-selected the hood prototypes to three, through their own human factors analyses and discussions with warfighters.

The prototype hoods and second skin recently completed aerosol system testing at Research Triangle Park, N.C. “What we are seeing through all of the rigorous testing is a noteworthy proof of concept aerosol protection improvement with a projected equivalent time to don the gear compared with the current mask and hood,” said Dan Barker, ECBC project lead for second skin. This project is currently in the research stage, and has been in development for only 18 months. “Collaborative research efforts between laboratories are key as PPE item research and development occurs across disparate labs.”

By Edgewood Chemical Biological Center