Those that follow me on Twitter Gwyn Winfield/@chembiotroll will have seen me tweet about Arktis after CTx in the UK. They have been trialling their new van mounted rad detection system at customs organizations across Europe.
They claim that their Modular Detection System for Special Nuclear Material (MODES_SNM) eases the operational burden associated with the expensive process of investigating the many “everyday” sources of benign radiation such as cat litter, fertilizer, ceramic tiles and even Brazil nuts. They state that their MODES_SNM system is the first of its type to combine fast and thermal neutron detection. It is the result of a pan-European R&D effort – funded by the European Commission under its FP7 framework program – that developed and integrated technologies originating in fundamental science research conducted at places like CERN, the European Laboratory for Nuclear Research near Geneva. It has already undergone rigorous tests at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Port of Rotterdam, and is now being tested by the Irish tax and customs administration.
As part of the recent tests the system has been used to verify that parked containers do not contain threats such as uranium, plutonium, or radiological components for “dirty bombs”. A unique advantage of the MODES_SNM system – which is modular and mission configurable - is its ability to identify materials surrounding a potential threat object. This information is of high value, as it can allow operators to exclude the possibility of a detected plutonium source being a “ready-to-go” nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the MODES_SNM system is more sustainable than current systems, as it does not use 3He, the expensive raw material that is typically used in most neutron detection systems.
While it is nice to see technology to come out of Cern and FP7, of more interest is the fact that Modes_SNM uses He-4. Interesting to see how the trials work out, but until then learn more via Arktis’ website
Photo (C) Liverpool University