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Apparatus for Explosives' Detection


The Development of an Apparatus to Detect Explosives and Drugs using Nuclear - Physics Methods

Tech Area / Field

  • INS-DET/Detection Devices/Instrumentation

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
All-Russian Research Institute of Automatics, Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • VNIIEF, Russia, N. Novgorod reg., Sarov


  • Activation Technology Corporation, USA, CO, Colorado Springs\nSandia National Laboratories, USA, NM, Albuquerque

Project summary

The project purpose is to develop experimental prototypes of the apparatus to detect explosives and drugs using nuclear-physics methods for a wide range of inspected items: luggage, mail, transport, building and room walls.

The development of techniques and apparatus to detect explosives and drugs requires carrying out the following works:

1) qresearch of nuclear-physics methods for explosives and drugs detection, determination of optimum methods for incorporation in the apparatus, in that number: neutron-neutron, neutron-gamma capture, neutron-gamma of inelastic scattering, and resonance gamma-absorption methods;
2) development of an apparatus to detect explosives and drugs, prototypes development and manufacture:

a) refining early developed under the ISTC project № 056-94 "Zaslon" equipment to detect explosives in luggage and mail with the aim to enhance characteristics of explosive detection and provide drugs detection; the "Zaslon" installation examination;
b) the development of a transportable apparatus to detect explosives and drugs in rooms, walls, transport, etc. including a choice of the detection method; the development of portable apparatus, experimental research and application range determination.

Several nuclear-physics methods combination is expedient to false alarm rate reduction with high probability of explosive and drug detection. The results obtained under the "Zaslon" project show the "Zaslon" installation advantage over the TNA installation (firm SAIC) using the only method - recording nitrogen gamma-radiation while thermal neutron capture (NGM). At present, though, the "Zaslon" installation doesn't use a number of potentials.

Therefore, the first tasks of the proposed project are: the most refining the "Zaslon" installation characteristics using recent advances in the field of pulsed neutron generators (ING), neutron and gamma-radiation detectors, and software; statistical data acquisition while luggage control applied to a new task of both explosive and drug detection.

Explosives and drugs have correlation zones of elements contained within them. This makes multielemental analysis of the inspection object preferable. Therefore, one supposes a further integration of used in the "Zaslon" installation methods for revealing explosive and drug nitrogen and hydrogen with other methods distinguishing remained basic elements of explosive and drug: oxygen and carbon.

In first turn, they are: fast neutron method FNA and its modifications PFNA and APSTNG - recording gamma-radiation while fast neutron scattering (with energy 7 - 15 MeV) on nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon nuclides. This method hardware is similar to hardware of the methods used in the "Zaslon" installation concerning gamma-detectors and 14 MeV neutron generator. Moreover, preliminary estimations show that irradiation chambers can be, in principle, combined within the single design.

Small-sized transportable equipment is required to detect explosive and drugs in rooms, transports, etc. Background and experience obtained while the "Zaslon" installation development and improvement allows solving this task using the equipment parts (radiation sources, detectors, converters, etc.). Herein, optimum methods for explosive and drug detection should be chosen, the apparatus prototype should be developed, experimental research with application range determination should be conducted.

As a result of carrying out the proposal an apparatus to detect explosive in luggage and mail should be improved, the problem of the development of a transportable equipment to detect explosives and drugs in walls, transport, building, etc. should be studied. Nuclear-physics methods for analysis of substance elemental composition using pulsed sources of neutron and gamma-radiation should underlie the equipment; recent advances in this field should be taken into account.

VNIIA and VNIIEF are interested in co-operation with foreign partners on the project. Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) have shown interest in these works.


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


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