The Challenges for the Chemical Sciences in the 21st Century Workshop on National Security and Homeland Defense brought together chemical scientists and engineers, from academia, government, national laboratories, and industrial research laboratories, who provided a broad range of experiences and perspectives. Their presentations and discussions showed that chemists and chemical engineers have a set of skills that map well into solutions of national security and homeland defense problems, and showed science and technology solutions to be even more promising when chemists and engineers collaborate with their col- leagues in other disciplines. The organizing committee has extracted two multi-faceted findings that are generalizations of the workshop discussions.
1. Extensive research opportunities exist throughout the many facets of chemistry and chemical engineering that can assist national security and homeland defense efforts.
a. Research in systems and analysis is required to apply new knowledge of basic science to developing tools and products for national security and homeland defense. Three major needs were identified at the workshop:
Detectors with the broadest possible range for chemical and biological agents. New sensing and sampling technologies will yield improved threat detection and identification technologies. Specific detectors that provide speed, high sensitivity, and great reliability are essential.
Miniaturization of detection and identification equipment for use in the field. This is needed by soldiers, first responders, and other
emergency and military personnel. This research will also allow the development of detection systems on a chip. Understanding materials and transport phenomena at the micron scale may facilitate research on miniaturized processes.
Personal and collective protection measures. Research is required to determine how to use new materials and methods to develop protective clothing, new drugs and vaccines, and infrastructure protection (air filters, stronger construction materials, decontaminants).
b. Addressing research opportunities in manufacturing would better prepare the nation for a terrorist attack.
Minimization of the hazards of chemical transport and storage. Chemical transport routes by rail, truck, or barge pass through population centers and neighborhoods. Large storage tanks of chemicals often exist at industrial sites. The inherent danger of chemical transportation and storage can be reduced if new manufacturing processes are developed that use less reactive, less harsh chemicals or produce and consume the dangerous chemicals only on demand and on site.
Rapid production scale-up procedures. If these procedures are established before they are needed, they can be implemented immediately in an attack. Although investigation into scale-up of all stages of production should occur, the scale-up of separation and purification is a specific challenge.
c. Fundamental research in basic science and engineering is essential to meet these needs. Much basic research stems from the need to solve specific problems faced by society. Supporting fundamental research for national security and homeland defense will enable discovery and understanding in many areas of chemistry and chemical engineering. These areas include materials development, pharmaceutical modes of action, particulate air transport and dispersal, catalysis, chemical and biochemical binding, solids flow and crystallization, energy sources and batteries, and sampling methodology and preparation. Research in many of these areas will be needed to meet the challenges outlined above.
2. Infrastructure enhancements are needed to promote the success of research in national security and homeland defense.
a. Access to secure facilities. Many important research efforts will require the use of hazardous materials, classified data, and specialized facilities. Collaboration with chemists and chemical engineers at government facilities will be necessary.
b. Transformation of graduate education. Changes in the infrastructure of graduate education to remove barriers to interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research will enable students to expand their range of knowledge and to learn how to work in concert with others to achieve maximum
effectiveness. This will be needed for them to participate successfully in any research program after graduation, especially one centered on national security and homeland defense related issues.
c. Instrumentation for research. Much of the needed research will depend strongly on new instrumentation to replace existing obsolete equipment as well as to allow new experiments. This includes both major multiuser equipment as well as specialized instrumentation for individual investigators.