Chemical Agent Fate project receives boost

May 7, 2008

Pending legislation could provide more funding for Kettering's research into chemical dispersion.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently announced funding for Michigan projects authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009. The bill was passed by the Committee Wed., April 30, and will proceed to the full Senate for consideration.

Kettering’s Chemical Agent Fate Research Project, headed by Dr. Homayun Navaz of the University’s Mechanical Engineering Dept., is slated to receive $2 million to support ongoing work.

This project uses computer-based mathematical models to predict the spread and persistence of chemical elements in the air, on the ground and on other surfaces. The project goals are to establish the length of time chemicals remain active following release and create simulation scenarios utilizing mathematical analysis to predict what could happen with chemical releases to assist officials in taking preventative actions.

Since the start of the project in 2005, the Chemical Agent Fate Project at Kettering has received more than $4 million in federal funds and in 2008, Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) secured an additional $1 million earmark in the Defense Appropriations Bill for 2008.

Thus far, this project has proven to be very successful in predicting how long chemicals remain harmful after they are deployed. The U.S. Air Force is currently utilizing new advancements in the physical transfers of chemical weapons based on results from this project.

On Friday, May 2, Navaz and his team gave a short presentation in the C.S. Mott Engineering and ScienceCenterfor Kildee, his staff and representatives from the offices of both Sen. Levin and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) about the project’s progress. Afterward, the institution held a reception for legislative guests at the Flint Country Club. Kettering President Stan Liberty, Provost Michael Harris, faculty, staff and a number of dignitaries from the area attended this gathering.  

For Navaz, this funding is crucial not only for the institution, but for mid-Michigan and the City of Flint.

“The project provides useful and life saving information for soldiers and can also protect civilian lives,” he said, adding that currently, “Kettering is leading the Agent Fate Modeling effort that helps not only to keep more people employed in the Flint area, but also support small businesses that can potentially offer their services to the project. Furthermore, it is quite beneficial to the State of Michigan to develop businesses that revolve around the state-of-the-art technology employed by the project.”

The team is currently working with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to develop digitized droplets, which they will use to assemble a sessile droplet by using a matrix of nano drops. This innovative technology is useful in measuring the precise evaporation rate of a droplet under different environmental conditions and for determining evaporation rates for elements with thicker viscosities and textures, which the team refers to as thicken agents.

For more information on this project, contact Dr. Homayun Navaz at

Written by Gary Erwin