CORVALLIS, Ore. Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered that some compounds called polyoxoniobates can degrade and decontaminate nerve agents such as the deadly sarin gas, and have other characteristics that may make them ideal for protective suits, masks or other clothing.
The use of polyoxoniobates for this purpose had never before been demonstrated, scientists said, and the discovery could have important implications for both military and civilian protection. A United Nations report last year concluded that sarin gas was used in the conflict in Syria.
The study findings were just published in the European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry.
Some other compounds exist that can decontaminate nerve gases, researchers said, but they are organic, unstable, degraded by sunlight and have other characteristics that make them undesirable for protective clothing or they are inorganic, but cannot be used on fabrics or surfaces.
By contrast, the polyoxoniobates are inorganic, do not degrade in normal environmental conditions, dissolve easily and it should be able to incorporate them onto surfaces, fabrics and other material.
"This is a fundamental new understanding of what these compounds can do," said May Nyman, an associate professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science. "As stable, inorganic compounds they have an important potential to decontaminate and protect against these deadly nerve gases."
As a chemical group, polyoxoniobates have been known of since the mid-1900s, Nyman said, but a detailed investigation of their complex chemistry has revealed this new potential. Besides protection against nerve gas, she said, their chemistry might allow them to function as a catalyst that could absorb carbon dioxide and find use in carbon sequestration at fossil-fuel power plants but little has been done yet to explore that potential.
A new method to protect against nerve agents could
|Contact: May Nyman|
Oregon State University