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Environmental & Field Testing Team

Vortex Chamber

Vortex ChamberEdgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC) is home to a novel standoff detection technology evaluation facility that for the first time ever, allows precise performance measurement of standoff detection systems at significant distances.

The only one of its kind in the country, this windowless facility, known as the Vortex Chamber, allows researchers to release a known amount of material and maintain a calibrated material scatter so that a standoff detector’s ability to “see” can be accurately measured from up to several kilometers away. This increased precision reduces uncertainty about the potential field performance of standoff detectors.

The Vortex Chamber was designed for use in the Artemis chemical standoff detection program to allow aerosol backscatter and vapor measurements with a frequency-agile carbon dioxide (CO2) Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) standoff detector. The chamber utilizes curtains of air, produced by an interior vortex balanced by an exterior counter flow of air, to contain the material cloud, preventing the backscatter off of conventional hard windows from corrupting the desired measurements on the cloud inside the chamber. The prevention of backscatter is critical because the CO2 LIDAR has a long
(1 microsecond) pulse and the backscatter off the window cannot be temporarily separated from the backscatter off of an aerosol in the chamber.

With known and modest modifications, this ECBC asset can be used with all passive and active, chemical and biological, standoff technologies and systems at any stage of development. The chamber was designed for testing with a variety of CB simulants, Chamberinterferents, and selected toxic industrial chemicals in both vapor and aerosol form. ECBC is exploring the regulatory acceptability of extending the operations to include “kill” pathogens, which if permitted would produce a tremendous benefit for the CBDP. Using state-of-the-art ground truth instrumentation, the Vortex Chamber has been shown to successfully contain a homogeneous aerosol cloud.



  • Homogeneous Suspension of aerosols for up to 15 min.
  • Generate wet or dry aerosols up to 200 micrometers in diameter
  • Chamber operated in a closed or open window configuration
  • Chamber cleared of aerosols in minutes
  • Ground Truth Nephelometer Data
  • Homogeneous aerosol distribution, long time constants
  • Able to be upgraded to BL-2


  • 4-foot X 4-foot aperture
  • 20-foot path length
  • Stainless Steel Lining
  • Windowless Vortex Chamber with volume of 2365 cubic feet
  • Air Curtain Technology
  • 2 Aerodynamic Particle Sizers (0.5-20 mm, 50 bins)
  • Isokinetic sampling



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