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While the U.S. has long urged other countries to destroy their chemical weapon stockpiles, it didn’t eliminate the last of its mustard gas mortars until this summer. Part of the problem was that decades-old liquid mustard had coagulated into a “greasy, tar-like substance,” says James DeSmet, the CEO of CRG Automation. In less than two years, however, a team that included CRG cleansed the weapons with a robotic system it designed and constructed, the Improved Cavity Access Machine, which disassembled, power-washed, and vacuum-cleaned the mortars. The project was able to safely destroy nearly 47,000 canisters before a convention deadline in September.

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