Tuesday, December 29, 2009

PETN Explosives Are Visible to EDXRD Technology

As everyone breathes a sigh of relief over the near miss that happened on Christmas Day in Detroit on Northwest # 253, it brings to mind the issues over current screening technologies used in security applications and their ability to efficiently detect various threats that we currently face from terrorist around the globe.

While nothing is fool proof, it is apparent that most of the x-ray technologies in place are based solely on image density screening and cannot adequately differentiate between common everyday items and significant threats. With current x-ray screening an image of a block of plastic explosive (i.e. C4), which is roughly the same density as chocolate or cheese, would be nearly identical to these common food items and almost impossible for a TSA Operator to properly distinguish without a thorough secondary inspection.

There are however alternatives to the current technologies, many that have been tested or used periodically in Homeland Security applications, that may be one of the solutions to consider as we begin to face a seemingly renewed and more sophisticated terrorist threat.

EDXRD or Energy Dispersive X-Ray Diffraction, is one such alternative that bears a looking at as our threats become more sophisticated and resolute.

EDXRD utilizes x-ray beams to screen crystalline materials, penetrating a container like luggage, while giving the operator molecular spectra of the material instead of an image and a clear cut way to distinguish real threats and common items. The EDXRD spectrum is essentially a fingerprint which can be automatically “matched” against a known library of threats and the operator notified immediately.

PETN, a crystalline based material that was used by the suspected terrorist is a perfect example of a material that EDXRD would detect. PETN comes in a substance form as a powder. The powder would show up as any other powdered material in a current magnetometer used in airports around the globe. EDXRD would be able to differentiate its molecular spectra fingerprint and recognize the threat in real time as it was being passed through the system.

EDXRD technology is currently in use within the pharmaceutical supply chain as a way to detect fraudulent, adulterated and counterfeit medications inside the material’s unit-of-sale container without destroying or degrading the products and has proven extremely accurate and reliable.

As we continue to face new and more dangerous threats it is important for both industry, regulators and government officials that we need to stretch our technology as the solution to these clear and present dangers.

To learn more about EDXRD technology and its current applications, visit: www.xstreamsystems.net.

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