Fully Immersed

Glove box allows ECBC to conduct in-depth toxicology research and testing on a larger scale.

CCDC Chemical Biological Center Public Affairs | June 29th, 2017

Fully Immersed

A unique and one-of-a-kind glove box facility, dubbed the Big Mac II, has been crafted and created at ECBC to be used for the testing and safe-handling of extremely hazardous chemicals.

Scientists and engineers at the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center can now fully immerse large pieces of chemical protection and detection equipment in aerosolized chemical environments thanks to the development of a one-of-a-kind glove box.

The glove box, dubbed the Big Mac II, has been created at ECBC to be used for the testing and safe-handling of extremely hazardous chemicals. Its expanded internal 1,000 liter exposure chamber allows for full immersion aerosol testing under a range of environmental conditions and fills a much-needed requirement to test large-footprint items

The development and fabrication of the Big Mac II was funded by both the Product Director Cross Commodity Advanced Threats and Test Infrastructure and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

“The goal for the McNamara glove box facilities is to provide the necessary toxicological and performance data to help maintain the warfighter in a readiness state. Whatever may be encountered on the battlefield, the Soldiers need to know the nature of the hazard they face and the means necessary to protect themselves,” said John Carpin, Ph.D., ECBC biomedical engineer.

The Big Mac II includes environmental controls with the capability to change the temperature over a range of -20 to 50 degrees Celsius and humidity conditions from 5 to 95 percent within the internal test chamber. The environmental conditioning system, which is a separate unit designed and fabricated by ECBC staff, was integrated with the Big Mac II after its installation.

This glove box, as described by David McCaskey, ECBC engineering technician, required plywood mockup fixtures to be built and transported through the building to ensure the actual glove box components could be transported into the lab for assembly.

“One new thing for us was the primary zone, one of the three sections of the glove box. It is so large a fire retardant room had to be built within the lab first so this section could be welded, ground, and polished right on-site,” said McCaskey. Operation of such a large piece of equipment is challenging in and of itself. Due to its height and length, four people are needed when conducting tests in the Big Mac II.

The Big Mac II is a culmination of 19 years of work and experience; its predecessor, the Big Mac I glove box, became operational in 2001. “We have been on a learning curve in the creation of these facilities and our goal has always been to work in as safe a manner as possible, and now we have the capability of doing full immersion aerosol testing in the Big Mac II,” said Carpin.

With the necessary approvals in place, the toxicology team began conducting live-agent tests in the Big Mac II in May.

The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (CCDC Chemical Biological Center) is the Army’s principal research and development center for chemical and biological defense technology, engineering and field operations. The Center has achieved major technological advances for the warfighter and for our national defense, with a long and distinguished history of providing the armed forces with quality systems and outstanding customer service. The CCDC Chemical Biological Center is located at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.