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EUREKA project promises fast and reliable explosive agent detection

Terrorism poses an increasingly dangerous and difficult threat to governments and citizens around the world. Keeping airports and public areas secure and disrupting passenger travel as little as possible is a priority for security personnel these days.

A Czech-led EUREKA Umbrella project, E! 3109 EULASNET EXPLOSIVES ANALYSER has created a portable system to detect explosive agents in areas susceptible to bomb attacks. Partners say the system is fast and reliable and can detect and analyse picogram-level traces of standard explosives with an extremely low false alarm rate.

“The E! 3109 EULASNET EXPLOSIVES ANALYSER project is entering its final phase,” says Jiri George Blaha of Czech company RS Dynamics. “We have already developed functioning prototypes of our new instrument, a portable explosives analyser that we call ‘EXPLONIX’, and we have tested the final version against the most important world competitors in this field.”

RS Dynamics has been a leader in the design and manufacture of Earth science and environmental instrumentation since 1989. Now, working together with Spain’s Sener Ingenieria Y Systemas S.A. and the Czech Academy of Sciences, it has come up with an instrument that is 500 times more sensitive than its closest competitor.

New way

“Our system introduces a completely new principle to vapour mode measurement,” says Blaha, “and it delivers unbeatable resistance against overload and false alarms.” The system is also easy to use, he says. Housed in a single compact and lightweight case, the ultra-sensitive device performs semi-continuous vapour and particulate sampling with instant readout. It features one-button or automatic, programmable, stand-alone operation and full computer-based remote control.

Basic applications include a hand-held detection device which analyses and quickly locates explosive contraband in air passenger luggage and clothing. It will also reliably discovers hidden bombs, even when concealed within plastic covers or containing plastic explosives. Partners also see further applications. The unit could easily be integrated within existing X-ray screening tunnels, for example, or it could be used for bomb detection by pyrotechnical robots.

Real benefits

“We expect to sell hundreds of units in the next year, and significantly more thereafter,” says Blaha. “We exhibited our new product in June 2006 at the EUROSATORY show in Paris, a major event for defence industry equipment and technologies, and we made literally hundreds of contacts from around the world.” Indeed, he says, the main benefit of EUREKA, aside finding access to financial support, has been the chance to network with important companies and people.

The benefits to society are equally clear. “Today,” says Blaha, “while the whole civilised world is continuously in danger of terrorist attacks, we have developed the first portable explosives sniffer that really works, and we now believe in the potential of this product in a wide variety of public and security sectors.”

Sally Horspool | alfa
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