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Sponge that soaks up chemical weapons of mass destruction developed by British boffins

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A SPONGE that soaks up chemical weapons of mass destruction has been made by British experts.

It could help combat banned nerve agents like VX and sarin – which can kill in minutes.

Getty – Contributor

The sponge was developed specifically to absorb, immobilise and degrade chemical weapons[/caption]

Experts say 4.5kg of the material could immobilise a staggering 208-litre drum of weapons like VX, which was used to assassinate Kim Jong-nam – the half-brother of North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un – in Malaysia in 2017.

It uses moisture from the air to turn the killer chemicals into a safe gel.

The Ministry of Defence paid experts at Kent University to come up with idea.

Dr Simon Holder, reader in organic chemistry at the university, said: “Less than five kilograms of the MOF-containing polymer sponge can absorb, immobilise, and safely destroy a 55-gallon drum of these toxic chemicals.

“It is very exciting to consider the potential this has in combatting dangerous chemicals in the future.

“The sponge was developed specifically to absorb, immobilise and degrade chemical weapons in bulk – in particular nerve agents such as VX which can kill a human in doses as small as 5-10 mg.


“They can be added to the liquid forms of these chemical weapons whereby the sponge rapidly swells, absorbs and converts the liquid to a gel preventing spillage and immobilising them.

“The catalyst inside the sponge then degrades the nerve agents by using atmospheric water to gradually break apart the toxic chemical into harmless by-products.

“There is no need to add water and once the sponge has been added, there is no need for further human contact.”

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