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Anti Bacterial Military Tent Walls

by John Reed on October 11, 2011

Combat wounds and field hospital surgery: There are just so many opportunities for an injury to become infected. And infection, after a traumatic injury itself, is the leading cause of amputations, according to medical officials.

The more you can eliminate opportunities for infection the better off the patient is going to be.

At the annual Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, a company that manufactures deployable shelters is now displaying a field hospital variant whose interior walls are custom made to kill bacteria.

“Embedded in the interior fabric of the shelter is a solution that is basically antimicrobial. It kills bacteria on contact,” says Marcel Branis, vice president of manufacturing for DHS Technologies in Orangeburg, N.Y.

According to the company’s literature, the bug-killing fabric is called XYTEX 500 and it offers 99.99 percent protection against microbes and other disease-causing microorganisms that come into contact with it. Branis says the solution doesn’t kill microbes in the air within the shelter, nor any that come into contact with anything else in the environment.

But if anything splatters or spills or is rubbed up against the walls, the microbes are going to die.

The company describes the solution as “a formulation of nano size spikes” ingrained into the fabric. When microbes come into contact with the material the spikes puncture their cell walls, killing them.

Branis said the fabric also prevents the growth of algae, fungi and mold.

The shelter is the latest in a line of DRASH shelters made by DHS Technologies. The shelters can be assembled in any number of patterns, or footprints, depending on how users want to deploy them. About six years ago it began marketing a command and control shelter that comes with lightweight projectors and audio-visual systems.

The shelters have been used by military and humanitarian relief organizations around the world, including as relief shelters and medical facilities during earthquake relief in Haiti in 2010 and as headquarters and security centers during the wildfires in California.

– Bryant Jordan

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

brian October 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

right the tent is anti bacterial, but everything in it isn't? If they were really serious about killing germs, they would start making things out of copper, or at least copper plate it since copper kills about 99% of all bacteria on contact.

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Brian Black October 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

Copper tents are a lot heavier. Far less practical.

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brian October 11, 2011 at 1:24 pm

I was referring to the items in the tent, and poles. Maybe some sort of copper plating

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Alex October 11, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Also expensive.

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brian October 11, 2011 at 1:27 pm

How much does it costs to treat an infection that didn't need to happen? How much do you save by having soldiers be more combat ready because they aren't sick?

There are many kinds of costs and savings, we should weight them all.

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blight October 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Next step is to have surfaces of medical instruments and counter-tops with this. That's where Acinetobacter baumannii and the other bacteria that cause nightmares for doctors in hospital live. I guess we could have counter-tops covered with this fabric, and gloves for starters. And depending on how the process works, medical instruments textured like this to kill bacteria on their surfaces would be immensely helpful.

In addition to bacteria are viruses, which are likely too small to be affected by the XYTEX…

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Josh October 13, 2011 at 12:20 am

It would make too much sense…

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Roy Smith October 13, 2011 at 4:29 am

Being an LPN,I’m pretty sure that as long as the shelter has a hard floor under it,if it is an operating room/theater,they would be scrubbing the floors & tables down between & after surgeries with anti-bacterial/microbial soaps. In a permanent building,they would also be scrubbing down the walls. However,these temporary shelters are most likely made of cloth which would make scrubbing them [the walls] down impractical if not impossible.

anonymouser October 11, 2011 at 11:57 am

Yeah, enjoy your pneumoconiosis, guys.

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blight October 11, 2011 at 1:25 pm

There's always silver, which can be woven into stuff. Again, expensive. Begs the question of how cheap they're making this special material out of.

If they could make gloves out of the stuff cheaply enough it might be more interesting. As it is, users have to keep switching dispo nitrile gloves, a time and concentration delaying procedure. Or you try to sterilize them, which means you might introduce whatever you are sterilizing to what you are working on.

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icedrake October 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

The problem with silver isn't going to be cost, at least not directly. Silver is just plain fragile, and the folding/unfolding of a field hospital tent is going to play merry hell with the integrity of any sort of surface coating. That's probably also going to eliminate copper from consideration, unless they're doing something really tricky with impregnating the material with microscopic copper particles.

Silver thread would work and would have fairly high resilience to wear, but the antibacterial properties of solid silver only exhibit themselves on contact, and you're not going to get anywhere near 99.9% across the fabric as a whole — unless you made it purely out of silver thread.

Not that the price of silver is irrelevant — Kitco puts current spot prices for copper at $3.25 per pound and silver at $31.83 an *ounce*. But I suspect it's the short lifespan of both silver and copper in this context that's the real barrier.

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blight October 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Silver bandages, though I imagine the taxpayer might not be pleased at the idea.

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Lance October 11, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Sounds good for field hospitals.

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Matt Korte October 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Nothing can destroy all living organisms, but the threat can be reduced by reducing the concentration of organisms in the air. One way to do this is with a fan and a filter, but that takes power and moving parts. However, the tent walls have a lot of surface area, and they've managed to make that surface deadly. As air moves around and organisms diffuse through it, a lot of them will touch the wall. If the wall kills most organisms that touch it, then the concentration of organisms in the air goes down.

This product could be a lot more effective than it seems.

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brian October 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Well i am sure tents that killed all living organisms would be a bad idea, since humans are living organisms too

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Matt Korte October 12, 2011 at 8:07 am

*microorganisms

but I'm pretty sure you already knew that.

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blight October 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I wonder if they can make a bandage material with XYTEX on their adhesive surface. Slap it onto a wound, and let the XYTEX kill bacteria or somesuch. Now /that/ would be a useful first aid application: Kill as many bacteria as you can while containing the wound as early as possible. Can't go wrong there.

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icedrake October 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Except for the part where it would indiscriminantly wipe out blood cells, skin cells, nerve cells…

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blight October 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Now we're saying it'll punch through the dermis?

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icedrake October 11, 2011 at 10:42 pm

I thought you were suggesting applying this to open wounds.

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icedrake October 12, 2011 at 10:04 am

I thought you were suggesting applying the bandage to open wounds.

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icedrake October 12, 2011 at 10:06 am

Since for whatever reason, *this* is the comment that must be approved by a moderator…

I thought you were suggesting applying this to open wounds, not healthy skin.

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Roy Smith October 13, 2011 at 4:38 am

I’m pretty sure that the mobile operating room/theaters come with a ventilation system that would keep outside air out of the room through positive air pressure. the problem is not being able to scrub down the tent walls to kill the germs. XYTEX takes care of that. Soaps used to scrub down equipment & kill germs can be toxic to humans(if taken internally) &/or cause severe irritation if they come in contact with skin. XYTEX is most likely no different & IS A BAD IDEA for bandages.

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maria vanderpool January 9, 2012 at 12:09 am

So that;s how the government is going to protect it’s self.

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joe October 12, 2011 at 8:38 am

That said, quite a few dressings now have anti-bacterial properties.

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