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Military Portable Containment Unit (MSC Class 3)
What is the containment unit (PCI Class 3)?
PCI stands for Portable Compliant Isolator. As the name suggests it a small glove box capable of mobile operation. It was primarily designed for use in hospitals for dispensing active drugs such as those used in chemotherapy.
Early on in its development it was realised that the multi-functions of the PCI could be expanded to include high containment operation as a Class 3 cabinet. These devices are similar to isolators but operate at a lower pressures to contain pathogenic substances
The Class 3 variant of the PCI has found widespread application within the UK MOD and NATO. It has two primary uses. The first is as a field hospital containment cabinet where it is used for analysing samples from troops. Both the UK and Canada use the PCI (Class 3's) in Afghanistan.
The second application is for analysing airborne threats using the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) method employed in the larger scale IBDS vehicles. Here the PCI's equip the LRT (Light Role Team) in 10 rapid response 6x6 military vehicles.
How does it work?
As the PCI is portable it may be carried on military vehicles for rapid deployment to areas of suspect airborne biochemical threat. The PCI draws HEPA filtered air from the environment and returns it via a dual-in-line HEPA filter. This ensures no hazardous biological or chemical can escape from the enclosure, by filtering the exhaust air and maintaining a negative pressure inside. This negative pressure means that any leaks in the system will be inwards so as not to compromise the safety of the operators. The primary method of isolation and analysis is PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction).
As the PCI is designed as a mobile system, it is suited to this type of operation. Its low voltage (24 VDC) design also means it can be readily powered from a commercial or military vehicle and run on its internal batteries for several hours. This variant of the PCI can be supplied with a formalin vaporiser and optional ammonia neutraliser to effectively decontaminate the work area without exposing users to spent fumigation agents. This product is NATO codified.
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