"Ultimately, what we'd like to create is a coating that changes color to indicate it's been contaminated, decontaminates itself, then returns to the original colour when it's clean," said Dr. Mitchell, acting team leader for hazard management and decontamination at DSTL. "This is a long-term but not unreasonable ultimate objective."
Currently, strippable, or peelable, coatings are used when a new camouflage is required, changing a vehicle's color from green to, for example, light stone in order to blend with desert terrain. But even if something is not visible from far away, it may reveal itself by reflecting sunlight. The paint can also alter the vehicle's glint signature, helping conceal it from hostile troops. The coating is applied just like normal paint, often using commercially available spray guns.The paint can be used to temporarily change a vehicle's camouflage.
"It's a single pack emulsion. It looks much like paint you'd find in a DIY store for painting your house. So you could apply it with a paint brush, or you could apply it with a roller. It's really flexible," Dr. Mitchell said.
Dr. Mitchell said DSTL was currently working in partnership with industry to develop a version of the coating that would absorb the vast majority of a liquid chemical warfare agent.