Detection & Sterilization of Anthrax & Other Biological Agents

After the terrorist attacks and threats involving the anthrax, the CSST initiated special research projects for detection and sterilization of anthrax and biological agents. Currently there are six on-going CSST projects:

  • Fred Regnier, Ronald Reifenberger, and Art Aronson, “An Integrated System for Sensing, Confirmation, and Identification of Anthrax Spores”
  • Rashid Bashir and Art Aronson, “Rapid Determination of Viability of Anthrax Spores and Their Specific Identification Using Micro/Nanosystems Technologies”
  • Edward Grant, “High-Throughput Laser Spectroscopic Sensor for Bacillus Endospores Including Bacillus Anthracis”
  • Larry Glickman, George Moore, and Yeong Kim, “Integration, Development, and Evaluation of Parallel Canine and Instrumentation Sensing of Anthrax Spores and Other Biological Agents”
  • David Koltick and Yeong Kim, “Neutron-Based Sterilization of Anthrax Spores”
  • Vladimir Shalaev, “Fractal-Surface-Enhanced Chemical and Biological Sensors”

Aviation and Homeland Security

The technology presently deployed in civilian airports and ports of entry does not provide fast and cost effective detection of security threats and produces high false alarm rates which have led to poor acceptance by both the public and the aviation industry. A new generation of detection and security technology is needed to meet current and emerging threats. In order to do this effectively, it is necessary to focus the expertise of a collaborating team of university, government, laboratories, and industry scientists and engineers on the many scientific, product development, and operational problems which must be overcome.

The IDHM Program has developed two fieldable proto-type detectors suitable for aviation security application. One detector uses mass spectrometry, a technique for identifying chemical and biological agents in the air. The other detector uses neutrons to peer inside sealed containers in luggage and detect the elemental composition of its contents in order to reveal the composition of a suspect material. We will be developing an integrated detection system using these detectors. We will also pursue application of other IDHM detectors to aviation and transportation security problems.

Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Clearance

Another most pressing national need is research and development related to UXO detection, location and discrimination problem. Unexploded ordnance may be found in the surface, subsurface, and marine (near-shore and deep-water) environment. As the result of war, military training, and weapons-testing activities, UXO presents a threat to active installations seeking to manage and clean their ranges, to sites designated for military base realignment and closure to former Department of Defense (DOD) sites. In the United States, the UXO problem results primarily from weapons development and training activities, including live-fire testing. The cost of identifying and disposing of UXO in the United States is estimated to range up to $500 billion. The site-specific cost, driven largely by the need to exercise extreme safety precautions, ranges from $400 per acre for surface UXO to $1.4 million per acre for subsurface ordnance. Successful development of UXO detection and discrimination technologies will aid in the development and commercialization of promising technologies to address the UXO problem. Because of the magnitude of the potential problem, small incremental increases in performance efficiency can result in substantial cost savings. However, innovative ideas that represent revolutionary approaches to the UXO identification and discrimination problem are essential. Technologies developed under the Center R&D effort will also directly support Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency requirements in order to accurately detect and discriminate buried objects such as hazardous waste containers and to delineate landfills and dumping grounds.

Humanitarian Demining

Landmines are the legacy of conflicts which to many of us are historical events. In Latvia, Germany, Lithuania and Austria, among other European countries, World War II era landmines are still found by unsuspecting homeowners, farmers, and construction workers. The persistence of a conflict can be judged by the fact that World War I explosives are still being found in Belgium. The magnitude of the problem is exacerbated in regions of more recent conflicts, notably in places such as the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Somalia, Eritrea, Ethopia, Mozambique, Angola, and Kosovo. It is estimated that in these regions over 35 million landmines impede the return to normalcy. Annually, worldwide, some 26,000 non-combatants, including women and children, are indiscriminately maimed or killed by landmines. Detection technologies developed by the CSST R&D will directly support the global humanitarian demining effort as well as the effort for controlling weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological and nuclear).