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Protecting British troops from biological warfare agents

Wind Tunnel 2

The Challenge

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is developing novel personal sampling technologies to detect biological warfare agents, enabling troops in the field to be better protected. However, current commercially available options are impractical for many Ministry of Defence applications as they require a separate sampler, pump and connecting tubing.

Dstl, in collaboration with the University of Hertfordshire, had designed two personal samplers that operate as small standalone devices. Both samplers were designed to collect as large a sample as possible to maximise the probability of particle detection.

Dstl asked a team of HSE scientific experts, including microbiologists and aerosol specialists, to determine the efficiency of the new samplers in order to assess whether they were suitable for use in the field.

The Solution

Inside the large wind tunnel facilities at HSE's Buxton Science and Research Centre (pictured above), the samplers were challenged with aerosols of dust and bacterial spores at two different wind speeds.

The Outcome

HSE's unique facilities and established methods enabled independent testing of the prototype technologies. The results generated from the trial will assist Dstl in carrying out operational analysis studies on the effectiveness of using personal sampler or personal biological detection technologies on military operations. If the personal sampling concept is taken forward by the Ministry of Defence, then this data can be used to help define equipment specifications for optimal protection of military personnel.

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