Christopher Doona fights unseen enemies each day in his job at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.
Doona, a civilian senior research chemist with NSRDEC’s Materials and Defense Sciences Division, uses the tools of science to do battle against disease-causing microorganisms.
His research has led to novel technologies to make the medical facilities, textiles, kitchens, galleys, showers and latrines that serve American war fighters even more hygienic and safer.
“For us, because we tend to work more on the basic research, publications, books and book chapters, it’s kind of fascinating to see our research being more applied, patented and licensed to industry,” Doona said. “Actually, industry is already marketing a commercial product based on our inventions.
“Ultimately, we would like to see it procured and used to benefit the soldier in the field — for disinfection, decontamination, sterilization or sanitation. That’s our ultimate goal.”
Doona’s arsenal of disinfection is an ensemble of novel mixed-chemical technologies and a pair of portable, energy-independent devices that sterilize and sanitize on-site. Their ammunition: chlorine dioxide.
Chlorine dioxide is a well-known disinfectant that can be used to kill Bacillus anthracis — the agent that causes Anthrax — and it is environmentally friendly, as well.
Doona is a former National Science Foundation scientist in Germany and a Middlebury College professor investigating Chemical Chaos and Environmental Chemistry.
“My previous experience helped to convert complex reaction chemistry into simple applications for the military,” he said.