Alexium International has received a contract from the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the demonstration of its Cleanshell CB advanced repellency treatments for military chemical and biological protection applications.

The $200,000 contract follows two previous contracts awarded by the US Army Natick Soldier System Center in 2011 and 2012 for the evaluation of reactive surface treatment (RST) technology for potential defence applications.

Stefan Susta, Alexium executive director and COO, said the company seeks to transition the technology to the next stage for use in military applications.

"Whilst the defence sector pathway can include extensive material testing, product testing, certifications and field trials, we see this project as an important catalyst to more rapidly qualify and field our protective treatments – which will position the company for larger procurement opportunities," Susta added.

Under the terms of the contract, Alexium will demonstrate the treatment’s repellant capabilities by testing against a range of live chemicals, including Soman and Mustard nerve agents on several Cleanshell CB treated fabrics.

In addition, new reactive nanoparticles developed by the AFRL under the company’s cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with USAF, will also be included in the fabrics for evaluation, even against airborne chemical warfare agents (CWA).

Cleanshell CB is an advanced, environmentally friendly liquid repellency treatment designed to increase military fabrics’ protection in chemical and biological threat scenarios.

The PFO and PFOA-free C6 treatment offers water and oil repellency, in addition to increasing the repellency of CWA simulants.

The US military purchases an estimated 200,000 chemical and biological protection suits annually, as part of its Joint Protective Aircrew Ensemble (JPACE), Joint Chem/Bio Coverall for Combat Vehicle Crewman (JC3) and Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) programmes.