For soliders out in the field chemical warfare is a very real threat, but while they can throw away their clothes and decontaminate their bodies, large equipment is more difficult to clean. Now military scientists have developed paint which literally sucks up the fallout from chemical attacks.
The Engineer reports that the UK-based Defence Science and Technology Laboratory has been working with paint company AkzoNobel to make the amazing substance. The system is comprised of two parts. A top coat, which contains silica gel and can absorb nasty chemicals like nerve gas, is painted onto a subtly sticky base coat, not dissimilar to the adhesive part of a Post-It.
The idea is that the base coat is sticky enough to hold the top coat in place, but weak enough that the chemical-sucking layer can be scrubbed off after exposure to dangerous gases. That means that vehicles could be returned to duty much more quickly than at present. While there haven't been any major chemical attacks in war zones since Iraq in the 1980s, it pays to keep on top of the game.
The next step, of course, is to create a paint that doesn't just soak up chemicals, but neutralises them, too. That's not as wacky as it sounds, because people have already suggesteed that silica mixed with a vanadium catalyst can neutralise mustard gas.
Image by aditi_rao under Creative Commons license