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CB Mobile Laboratory

Client: CB Mobile Laboratory

Date: 2011  

The design brief was to "Develop a fully field transportable laboratory for biological and chemical analyses that is able to operate independently for a minimum of two weeks, suited to the African environment and deployable anywhere in the world."

In the field of chemical and biological defence, the rapid detection and characterization of hazardous chemical and biological substances is of paramount importance. Besides detecting an agent, it is vital to characterize and quantify it in order to rapidly make decisions regarding the response to an incident. TFD in collaboration with Protechnik was tasked to design and construct a mobile laboratory for use in both the chemical and biological defence environments to be utilized by 7 Medical Battalion Group (7MBG).

The design criteria included:

  • For the internal compartments to be at negative pressure relative to the environment.
  1. Be compatible with vehicles currently used by 7MBG.
  • Be compatible with procedures and doctrines currently used by 7MBG.
  1. Be transportable by aircraft (C130).
  2. Have cold storage capabilities for samples.
  3. Be amenable to electricity supplied by a military generator.
  • Provide a safe climate controlled environment for personnel working inside the laboratory.
  1. At no stage release any harmful agents into the environment.

To prevent cross contamination and to facilitate safe entry/exit procedures, without compromising the integrity of the containment, the laboratory was divided into three distinct sections. Firstly an entry compartment which allows access from the outside to either of the remaining two compartments. Secondly a preparation compartment, in which a wide range of samples can be prepared and inactivated for analysis. Lastly, an analytical compartment was created to house instrumentation required for the detection and characterisation of chemical as well as biological warfare agents.  In order to prevent the escape of dangerous agents into the environment, the laboratory was designed to operate at negative pressure relative to the environment. In addition to this, the design was carried out in such a way that the three compartments would also operate at different pressures relative to each other. All three compartments were monitored and controlled via a PLC and feedback given to the onboard HMI, highlighting alarm status, water level, door opening/closing positions etc.

In order to safely pass a wide range of potentially hazardous samples from the outside of the laboratory into the preparation compartment a unique pass-through box system was designed.

The laboratory was equipped with the following equipment:

  • Class III Isolation Cabinet
  • Class II Biological safety Cabinet
  • Nitrogen evaporation unit
  • Light microscope
  • Inverted light microscope
  • Carbon dioxide incubator for bacterial culture
  • Carbon dioxide incubator for human cell culture
  • Autoclave
  • Multi-purpose refrigerated centrifuge
  • Fridge/freezer
  • Hot and cold water basin with fresh and grey water tanks
  • Real-time thermal cycler
  • Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer