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Don’t Blow It! Safely Eliminating Chemical and Biological Munitions on the Battlefield

About the Challenge
Access Disable Destroy

Posted By: Department of Defense
Category: Scientific/Engineering
Partners: United Kingdom Ministry of Defense
Submission Dates: 1 p.m. ET, Sep 26, 2018 - 7 a.m. ET, Nov 07, 2018

Development and use of chemical weapons on the battlefield and in targeted attacks is on the rise.  Destruction of such weapons presents numerous technical challenges and existing solutions – such as blowing it up – aren’t always appropriate for use.

“Don’t Blow It!” is an industry competition jointly sponsored and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and UK Ministry of Defence and administered by the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).  The goal of the competition is to identify novel and innovative technologies and approaches to access, disable and/or irreversibly destroy chemical and biological munitions, improvised explosive devices, and bulk agents on the battlefield or in other austere environments.

This Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition is seeking proposals for novel and innovative technologies and approaches to access, disable and/or irreversibly destroy chemical and biological munitions, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bulk agents in challenging environments.

The competition has an initial £500,000 to fund multiple proof-of-concept proposals at low Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). Additional funding of £1.5 million may be available depending on the outcome of the initial funding phase. The competition will launch at an event in London on the 26 September 2018.

It is joint funded by the UK Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defense, and will operate under an existing memorandum of understanding between both nations.

Under the Chemical Weapons Convention all member states are obligated to destroy any chemical weapons they own or possess, or that they abandoned on the territory of another member state.

There is an increasing focus on developing a toolkit of novel and innovative options to enable rapid, effective and irreversible destruction of smaller caches of chemical and biological weapons discovered in resource-limited environments.

Whilst destruction technologies exist, they are not appropriate for use in all circumstances. Through this competition we want to investigate novel or innovative new concepts or adapt current technologies. We expect these solutions will ultimately enable destruction methods to be more rapid, effective and flexible than those used for large stockpiles, and reduce logistical support requirements, whilst maximising ease of operation, transportability and ruggedness of the equipment. These improved capabilities will allow us to address a greater breadth of threats and in a wider range of circumstances.

There are three main areas of interest for this competition:

Access

  • how to gain access to munitions, IEDs and bulk containers without relying on the original design features, such as filling ports, which may or may not be present

Disable

  • how to prevent munitions, IEDs and bulk agent being used as intended either temporarily or permanently

Destroy

  • how to permanently and irreversibly destroy munitions, IEDs and bulk agents

Key limitations of the traditional destruction technologies include:

  • significant logistical burden (large equipment footprint (a facility)), difficult to transport (size, weight), resource intensive (such as requiring large amounts of electricity or water);
  • manpower intensive (significant set-up time, manually operated);
  • low throughput and not designed for small-diameter or irregularly shaped items;
  • large quantities of waste generated.

We’re seeking novel and innovative technologies and approaches that will overcome these limitations and enhance the range of tools available for dealing with these devices.  We’re not anticipating a one-size-fits-all solution and envisage that the proposed approaches will result in a set of tools capable of addressing a range of problems. We expect that they will ultimately enable destruction methods to be more rapid, effective and flexible than those used for large stockpiles, and reduce logistical support requirements, whilst maximising ease of operation, transportability and ruggedness of the equipment.

We’re looking for new or improved capabilities that are adaptable to varying munition and container sizes and shapes, have higher throughput and can destroy a range of devices either in situ or with minimum displacement.  The solution does not necessarily need to be reusable – it could be a sacrificial single-use approach.  Your proposed technical solution must minimise the impact of any hazardous materials generated.

We are also interested in proposals that develop existing technologies from other fields in a scalable and novel way.

The challenges

This competition will have three challenges. Your proposal must address at least one, but could address more of the challenges.

  • Challenge 1: Access – We’re looking for novel and innovative technologies and approaches that can access munitions, IEDs and bulk containers without relying on the original design features, such as filling ports, which may or may not be present. (A filling port is an access hole into a munition or container that enables it to be filled or drained.)
  • Challenge 2: Disable – We’re seeking novel and innovative technologies and approaches that prevent munitions, IEDs and bulk agent being used as intended. This could be by delaying their deployment to such a degree that it prevents their imminent use (such as encasing munitions in foam or adding steps to the deployment procedure).  Your proposed technology or approach must put these munitions, IEDs or bulk agent out of action either temporarily or, if possible, permanently.
  • Challenge 3: Destroy – We’re looking for novel and innovative technologies and approaches that permanently and irreversibly destroy munitions, IEDs and bulk agent. This could be achieved in a variety of ways including thermal destruction or chemical neutralisa

The devices to be accessed, disabled or destroyed may be munitions, IEDs or containers.  The munitions may be as large as 175mm projectiles and may contain explosive materials, which could be unstable.  IEDs may be irregularly shaped and may also contain explosive materials.  Containers may hold up to 1 metric tonne of bulk chemical or biological agent.  The chemical agents should include the toxic chemicals and precursors listed in Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.  The biological agents are any disease-causing organism or toxin covered by the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention.  These agents may be liquids, solids or gases.

Ideally your solution would be capable of disabling or destroying up to one metric tonne of bulk chemical or biological agent and/or up to 48 munitions (as large as 175mm calibre) within 12 hours (hostile territory) or 72 hours (non-hostile territory), inclusive of equipment set-up and tear-down time.

We are seeking solutions which are readily transportable and satisfy one of two conditions:

  1. It is man-portable – the system and consumables fit in two standard military backpacks, and can be carried by two people; or
  2. It is mobile – the system and consumables must not exceed the NATO 463L pallet size and should be transportable by vehicle (land or air).

 These conditions are challenging and are the aspirational targets for the final solutions. Proposals for demonstration and proof of concept with lower throughput rate and/or larger solutions will be considered if there is a plan to upscale throughput and/or reduce size, as required, in your proposal.

What we want

We’re seeking novel and innovative technologies and approaches, in addition to proposals that develop or use existing technologies in a new way.  This may include drawing from a range of industry sectors, such as the petrochemical, aerospace and waste management industries, and applying their tools and techniques to our challenge.

We’re interested in proposals for a complete system, as well as for individual component parts which could contribute towards the solution to the challenges. Your proposed technology could offer part of, or an important step towards, the solution to the challenge. We’ll encourage you to collaborate in any follow-on phase 2 projects.

We’re also interested in proposals that consider a systems approach, including the ability to integrate with other technologies in the system. These proposals need to consider the system integration aspects and how components can be integrated into system solutions.

We expect that phase 1 proposals will focus on low to medium maturity technologies and approaches, more detail can be found further down this document.

What we do not want

For this competition we are not interested in proposals that:

  • purely identify the agent and/or deliver non-destructive evaluation
  • will have a heavy training burden for end-users
  • provide incremental improvements in current destruction solutions for chemical and biological weapons
  • cannot demonstrate feasibility within the timescale
  • lack clear detail on the metrics which will be used to define the success of the solution
  • are unaffordable (for example a single-use sacrificial system which is cost-prohibitive)
  • provide just consultancy, paper-based studies or literature reviews
  • only offer a written report – we’re looking for a demonstration

Exploitation

 Exploitation is at the heart of everything we do, planning for exploitation from the beginning will significantly increase the chance of project success.

 This competition will provide the opportunity to expose your idea to a wide stakeholder group including end users and procurement agencies with the aim of accelerating successful projects into the next stage of their exploitation pathway.

It is important that your proposal demonstrates how your idea will deliver significant change in capability and how it could be integrated with current capabilities.  Your proposal should cover how the product will be matured in a representative environment and how you plan to demonstrate its value by means of a business/economic case. Your proposal should consider potential collaboration and engagement where possible.

The competition team will seek to engage the right people at the right time and bring the end-users into the process early in order to help shape development. You will be heavily involved in creating an enterprise that can identify and manage risks to exploitation and to identify the scale of change required to implement your technology.  This will create the conditions to enable an informed decision to be made on the onward exploitation of your idea.

You should also consider whether your product has additional exploitation routes outside of Defence such as through a Defence Prime, commercial organisation or export.

How to Enter

The registration for this event has been extended to 6 p.m. EST on 17 September 2018.

Expression of interest for attending the launch must be submitted by 5pm EST on 12 September 2018.

Register for the launch event here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dont-blow-it-expressions-of-interest-for-launch-event-tickets-47511754938

The start of submissions will begin after the launch on September 26, 2018.

This challenge is a joint call administered on behalf of the U.S. and UK.  Submissions should be entered to the DASA site: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/defence-and-security-accelerator-submit-your-research-proposal

 

 

 

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Submissions for this competition are being accepted on a third-party site. Please visit the external site for instructions on submitting: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/defence-and-security-accelerator-submit-your-research-proposal
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