Protection Equipment Demonstration: Something for Everyone

Under rows of tents and inside large aircraft hangars, more than 2,600 force protection products were demonstrated and exhibited for Defense Department, federal and local agencies at Force Protection Equipment Demonstration IV May 6-8. Among the highlights: Geocell Systems, which demonstrated how to build sand barriers using a foldable plastic device. The modular and collapsible plastic grids require no special tools and can be assembled in seconds to hold sand horizontally to any desired length. The grids are also stackable to hold sand vertically. Barney Greinke, director of marketing for the company, said the sand-filled wall can act as a barrier against vehicles, and can help stop small-arms fire and blast fragments from small bombs. “You have to understand that a wall of sand 4 feet wide by 8 feet tall weighs around 12,000 pounds,” Greinke said, “So it can be quite effective. It’s basically replaces the sandbag.”

Catnip stops termites dead in their tracks

Cats may adore catnip, but termites hate it. That’s what two researchers found in a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, held this week in New Orleans. The oil derived from the catnip plant was found to repel and kill termites in a laboratory test. The researchers hope that eventually a commercial product derived from the oil might provide a less toxic alternative to pesticides used today. Termites cause damages estimated at more than $1 billion annually in the United States. In New Orleans, the aggressive Formosan subterranean termite ? now found in at least 11 states ? is believed to infest about 30 percent of the area’s live oak trees and costs home owners more than $300 million a year.

Center studies wheelchair substitutes for beaches

It’s virtually impossible for people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices to enjoy the full benefits of a beach experience, but the National Center on Accessibility at Indiana University Bloomington is working to remedy this situation that affects millions of Americans. “Most typical wheelchairs are impossible to use on sand, so people with disabilities are unable to enjoy the beach,” NCA Director Gary Robb explained. “We had about 40 men and women who use wheelchairs test five different wheeled devices designed to traverse beach sand to evaluate their usability. We are now compiling the data and hope to report our findings in two to three months to government agencies, people with disabilities, and others interested in an independent analysis of this equipment.”