Project title: Modelling the Decomposition of Chemical Warfare Agents in the Environment

Supervisor: Dr Kim Jelfs, Dr Patricia Hunt

Project description:

The use of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) remains a current and global threat. Understanding of the environmental decomposition of CWAs is crucial to managing contaminated areas during response situations, and to the long-term goal of accelerating decomposition.

The nerve agent VX has high toxicity, low volatility and undergoes slow environmental hydrolysis. Consequently, VX persists in the environment at significant concentrations days after release. Upon release, VX can be exposed to a large range of environments. The interactions between VX and its environment will be crucial in determining the agents fate. The aim of this project is to gain understanding, across a range of length scales, of the behaviour of VX within solution and on natural surfaces, by using mesoporous silicate structures as models.

Additionally, recent work at DSTL has led to interest in ionic-liquid (IL) based materials for enhanced degradation and vapour suppression of CWAs. The fundamental understanding of how ILs result in these properties will be investigated, alongside their influence on VX decomposition across different environments.