Plant to Test Equipment with Agent Alternatives

Technicians weigh a sample of chlorobenzene to calibrate a pump in preparation for surrogate testing at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. The plant is using surrogate chemicals to be able to prove destruction of chemical agent.
Technicians weigh a sample of chlorobenzene to calibrate a pump in preparation for surrogate testing at the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. The plant is using surrogate chemicals to be able to prove destruction of chemical agent.

The Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant is preparing to use non-agent simulant and surrogate chemicals to test equipment and systems that will thermally decontaminate nerve-agent projectiles and other agent-related materials.

“We will perform the Surrogate Demonstration Test of the Metal Parts Treater and its Off-gas Treatment System prior to agent operations,” said Charlie Satterwhite, industrial hygiene manager, Bechtel Parsons Blue Grass. “We are using chlorobenzene, a solvent, and glycerol, a sugar alcohol, to test our systems, as this allows us to test handling, equipment and destruction procedures without the risk of exposing workers to chemical agent.”

The chemicals were chosen for their chemical properties to ensure the safe destruction of chemical agents GB and VX, said Satterwhite. Chlorobenzene will be used because it is very difficult to destroy thermally, so equipment that is tested to destroy it will be able to prove destruction of chemical agent. Glycerol has been selected as the agent simulant for the surrogate demonstration because its boiling point is higher than GB and close to that of VX. The boiling point of the simulant is considered a critical factor when demonstrating time and temperature requirements in the MPT.

“Prior to the demonstration, we will optimize the equipment by filling test munitions with increasing amounts of the surrogate agents and feeding them into the Metal Parts Treater,” Satterwhite said. “This will also allow workers to gain familiarity with the process before the demonstration begins.”

The surrogate demonstrations for this equipment are currently scheduled to begin in March.

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