The main goal of this Project is to develop effective, cheap and reliable inorganic oxide systems for the catalytic decontamination of chemical warfare agents (CWA), in alternative to the current chemical detoxification systems, and to evaluate the possibility of a large-scale use of these solids in decontamination devices, assessing their toxicological impact on living organisms by innovative biological tests. The final solid decontamination catalysts are based on innovative nanostructured inorganic oxides and rely on the oxidative degradation by chlorine-free, oxygen-based oxidising components, under extremely mild ambient conditions, transforming and degrading highly toxic chemical agents into non-toxic (or much less toxic) secondary products. Such systems find practical application in the on-field immediate decontamination of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) agents on objects and personnel.
The Research Units have focused their attention on clay-based materials and nanosized inorganic oxides with enhanced sorption properties and with a relevant catalytic degradation and decontamination capability due to the addition of catalytically active metal centres (Nb, Fe, W, Zn and Ti, in particular). A set of suitable techniques for the rapid evaluation of toxicity towards living organisms and the environment of the proposed nanostructured materials has also been selected and optimised. Promising results have been obtained in both the abatement and decontamination of organosulfur and organophosphorus compounds (simulants of blistering and nerve CWA), with the interest of Ukrainian institutional end-users and one Italian industrial developer, with expertise in CBRN protection and countermeasures. Two prototypal devices (a decontamination spraying apparatus and a portable glove for the in situ decontamination of small surfaces) have been developed. The best-performing decontamination materials have been successfully tested under real conditions, with controlled amounts of live blistering CWA (HD agent), and have shown fully satisfying results.
According to the selected criteria for success, the present Project has successfully and fully achieved its goals.