Catalytic Polymer Membranes for the Detection and Destruction of Environmental Hazards

Anastasios P. Angelopoulos
University of Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Keywords: Chemical Warfare Agent, DMMP, Polymers, Membranes, Catalyst, Sensor

Organic reagents such as resorcinol can be immobilized in polymer membrane catalysts such as the commercially available NafionĀ® to react with and immobilize various environmental hazards in the environment such as acetone, formaldehyde and various anhydrides. The use of non-reagent immobilized versions of NafionĀ® fibers as wearable protective clothing has previously also been proposed. However, the approach was unsuccessful because the simulants permeated too quickly through the membrane, particularly in the presence of water. We will here show that the immobilization of certain reagent molecules prior to simulant exposure not only overcomes this drawback, but simultaneously provides a means by which to detect and destroy these agents. Specifically, we will show how these reagent-immobilized membranes react with and thereby trap the nerve agent simulant DMMP. The color change associated with this reaction is then used to detect the presence of the simulant. This approach provides a significant advance in hazardous chemical sensing in humid environments for both military and civilian applications.