In the last few weeks international news has been focused on the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Now Syria has said it will place its chemical weapons under international control where they will be destroyed.
But getting rid of the world’s most lethal chemical concoctions isn’t a simple matter. To make it easier to destroy chemical weapons, the US Army announced back in June that is has developed a mobile chemical weapon neutralization facility.
Called the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS), the mobile facility can be run by a crew of 15 trained technicians and has the capacity to neutralize anywhere from 5 to 25 metric tons of chemicals per day. At the core of the FDHS is an 8,328 liter (2,200 gallon) tank containing a hydrolysis system. Once a chemical is introduced to the tank, reagents like sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide are mixed with the chemical and heated to transform the once deadly mixtures into substances that are “not useable as weapons”.
But not every chemical weapon is the same. Therefore, the FDHS also comes with a suite of chemical analysis tools that can verify a weapon’s composition before it’s processed to ensure that it will be completely neutralized once it’s undergone treatment.
While the FDHS isn’t the only way to safely destroy chemical weapons, it might be the most practical. One of the biggest problems with destroying chemical weapons is convincing someone to let you do it in their backyard. Being able to neutralize these agents where they’re held gets rid of the NIMBY issue and gives inspectors a better sense that the entirety of a stockpile has been secured and neutralized.
Images Courtesy of CBARR