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Block II Chemical Biological Mass Spectrometer (CBMS) Program

In 1997, ORNL was chosen by the US Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command as the lead of a program to develop, build, and demonstrate the Block II CBMS. The Program Team includes 5 ORNL Divisions, three subcontractors (Hamilton Sundstrand Sensor Systems, the MSP Corporation, and the Colorado School of Mines), and three collaborating military labs (Dugway Proving Ground, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and White Sands Missile Range).

The Block II CBMS integrates chemical and biological warfare agent detection and identification into a single unit that is lighter, smaller, and less power-intensive than separate detectors, and which can detect and identify a longer list of agents with improved selectivity, sensitivity and reliability. It is to be deployed in wheeled vehicles for point detection and reconnaissance missions.

Modular in design, the Block II CBMS is soldier-friendly in operation and self-diagnosing in fault location. It resists nuclear radiation, temperature extremes, and vibration and shocks from wheeled vehicle transport. The heart of the CBMS is a direct sampling ion trap mass spectrometer that can be operated in either ethanol chemical ionization or electron ionization in full scan and tandem mass spectrometry modes. Multiple scan functions allow all of these modes to be used automatically in agent analysis. The mass spectrometer is connected to three sampling systems via the sample interface module. Respirable particulate airborne biological agents are isolated, concentrated and delivered to a pyrotube by the bioconcentrator module. The bioparticles are heatedin the presence of an esterifying agent, and the derivatized phospholipid membrane fatty acids and other biomarkers are transferred to the mass spectrometer by a mode select valve, transfer line, and capillary interface. Chemical agent (nerve, blister, riot agent, and other military chemicals) vapors are sampled via a heated SilicoSteelš capillary line and are directed to the mass spectrometer via the mode select valve. Liquid chemical warfare agents on the ground are sampled by the reconnaissance vehicle ground wheel/heated probe system, which connects with the Block II CBMS.

The soldier operates the instrument using the soldier display unit, which also sounds and displays the alarms and transfers them to a central computer on the reconnaissance vehicle. A huge software engineering effort has automated the instrument tuning and agent identification. The operator does not have to be a scientist to run the CBMS.

One prototype and fourteen CBMS preproduction units have been built. Two units are currently being tested for chemical warfare agent performance at the Dugway Proving Ground while three units have been installed in the US Marine Corps' Joint Services Lightweight Nuclear Chemical Biological Reconnaissance Vehicle HMMWV platform and others are being installed in the Army's Interim Armored Vehicle. Tests of roadability, EMF, and agent ground pickup have been successfully conducted. Environmental and vibration tests are underway. Another year of work is needed to ready the system for government tests of the biological warfare agent detection/identification performance.





The Block II CBMS will provide the soldier with improved warning of chemical and biological warfareagents. It also has obvious applications to homeland security and other civilian uses.

For more information,
contact Kevin Hart.


CBMS Team in 2000

Applied Technology Group R&D

Provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Chemical Sciences Division
Rev:    June 26, 2003