In-Situ, Non-Destructive Permethrin Test Device for Military Fabrics and Uniforms
Navy SBIR 2014.2 - Topic N142-084
MARCOR - Ms. Elizabeth Madden -
Opens: May 23, 2014 - Closes: June 25, 2014

N142-084 TITLE: In-Situ, Non-Destructive Permethrin Test Device for Military Fabrics and Uniforms

TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Materials/Processes

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PM IWS, PdM Infantry Combat Equipment (ICE) Combat Clothing

OBJECTIVE: The objective is to develop an in-situ, real-time test method to enable verification of permethrin content in military fabrics and uniforms by Marines in the field.

DESCRIPTION: Vector-borne diseases remain a significant threat in military and humanitarian operations resulting in reductions in manpower, lost duty days, and decreased combat effectiveness. Personal Protective Measures (PPMs) are the most effective means of protecting Marines from these threats, a key component of which is insect repellent treated gear. Permethrin is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved synthetic pyrethroid that is both an insecticide and repellent. The Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform (MCCUU) is permethrin treated to provide protection against biting insects and insect-borne diseases. The initial permethrin content requirement for the MCCUU blouse is 0.104-0.141 grams/cm2 and for the trousers is 0.123-0.170 grams/cm2. Permethrin content is currently measured at the factory and government laboratories where it is determined using a complicated analytical test method. The current laboratory method is a destructive test where samples are cut from various areas of a uniform. The permethrin is then extracted with solvent and measured using a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (GCMS) to determine the content. The laboratory lot verification testing typically requires 2 individuals for a total of 9 man-hours for testing unlaundered samples. Individual uniforms are tested initially and after 20 and 50 laundering cycles for first article testing. Laundering 20 cycles requires at least one week time and would require at least 10 additional man-hours. Verification testing is done on samples from every production lot by the manufacturer and sampled randomly by the government after initial vendor certification. Verification testing at government facility typically takes 14-30 days from receipt depending on quantity of lots in testing queue. Unfortunately, the testing process and the required laboratory equipment to perform this testing are not amenable to use outside of a laboratory. Presently, there is no commercially available method of in-situ permethrin testing for clothing. The inability to validate and/or verify suitable permethrin content, allows for a potential increase in exposure of Marines to disease-carrying biting insects in high-risk operational areas as well as the premature disposal of uniforms as individuals err on the side of caution.

The Marine Corps seeks innovative approaches to develop a portable, hand-held, non-destructive permethrin test device and associated methodology to enable non-destructive, in-situ determinations that military uniforms and fabric have the required permethrin content. For all proposed concepts, the correlation coefficient between the two test methods (laboratory using GCMS and proposed in-situ method) should be greater than 90%. The sensitivity of the proposed in-situ measurement method should allow for detection of not only target content but also for decreased content, down to as low as 10% of initial permethrin content. For example, if the original permethrin content is 0.104 mg/cm2, then this method should be able to detect as low as 0.010 mg/cm2. Proposed concepts should focus on the elimination of solvent usage, thus making the apparatus "greener" and not depending on the availability of the appropriate solvent. Proposed concepts shall be robust for field use and compliant with anticipated hot and cold environments with the appropriate moisture and dust protection as specified in MIL-STD-810G and shall be usable by any single individual. Information shall be provided in real-time, (a maximum of 5 minutes) to enable timely analysis for the end user and shall provide the end user the capability to determine the level of protection remaining in the tested material. Proposed concepts need to be compliant with open architecture design protocols to provide the user the ability to test on any military fabric in multiple configurations (i.e., worn or not worn, etc.). Proposers are encouraged to use COTS components where appropriate and to be mindful that material selection, method of power, etc., should be conducive to in-situ operations in varied operational environments.

PHASE I: Develop concepts for an in-situ, non-destructive, permethrin test device to enable real-time measurement on military uniforms and fabrics. Demonstrate the feasibility of the concepts in meeting Marine Corps needs and establish that the concepts can be developed into a useful product for the Marine Corps. Feasibility will be established by material testing and analytical modeling, as appropriate. The small business will provide a Phase II development plan which will include performance goals, key technical milestones and address technical risk reduction.

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I and the Phase II development plan, the small business will develop a scaled prototype for evaluation. The prototype will be evaluated to determine its capability in meeting the performance goals defined in the Phase II development plan and the Marine Corps requirements for the in-situ, non-destructive, permethrin test device. System performance will be demonstrated through prototype evaluation and modeling or analytical methods over the required range of parameters including numerous deployment cycles. Incremental evaluation results will be used to refine the prototype into a production design that will meet Marine Corps requirements. Company will deliver 3 finalized test device prototypes to USMC for independent evaluation and testing. The company will prepare a Phase III development plan to transition the technology to Marine Corps use.

PHASE III: If Phase II is successful, the company will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the technology for Marine Corps use. The company will develop the in-situ, non-destructive, production-ready, permethrin test device for evaluation to determine its effectiveness in an operationally relevant environment for lot verification and on the spot uniform testing. The small business will support the Marine Corps with certifying and qualifying the system for Marine Corps use. As appropriate, the small business will focus on scaling up manufacturing capabilities and commercialization plans.

PRIVATE SECTOR COMMERCIAL POTENTIAL/DUAL-USE APPLICATIONS: In addition to the military market, this technology would have applications to clothing and gear in other markets including the outdoor clothing and woodland firefighting markets.

1. "Insect-repelling ACUs now available to all Soldiers" by David Vergun , J.D. Leipold

2. Permethrin Facts (Reregistration Eligibility Decision (RED) Fact Sheet)

3. "Permethrin Factory-Treated Army Combat Uniforms Frequently Asked Questions and Answers." Aberdeen Proving Grounds, MD: U.S. Army Public Health Command Entomological Sciences, July 2013.

4. "Armed Forces Pest Management Board Technical Guide No. 36: Personal Protective Measures Against Insects and Other Arthropods of Military Significance." Armed Forces Pest Management Board Information Services Division, October 2009.

5. National Pesticide Information Center PERMETHRIN TECHNICAL FACT SHEET

KEYWORDS: Permethrin; Textile Production; Military Clothing; Combat Clothing; Individual Protection

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