Indra Develops a System for Detecting Radioactivity in Ports and Airports

Indra has developed a new radioactivity detection system that makes it possible to efficiently monitor the containers that enter large ports. The company also has an adapted version for use in airports and industrial settings.

European ports currently perform radiological inspections on a high percentage of containers, and this will be a mandatory measure for ships with the United States as their destination. The objective is to ensure that contaminated goods do not enter and to prevent the illegal trafficking of small amounts of uranium to be used in terrorism.

The system detects and identifies materials that emit neutrons or gamma radiation. Its operation is passive. It transforms radiation it receives into electrical impulses that are processed using software to offer analysis results to users in real time.

In tests performed at the Port of Valencia, the Indra detection arc showed greater sensitivity and a lower false alarm rate compared to existing devices.  

On the other hand, accidents like the one at the Fukushima plant have reawakened interest in this type of technology and highlighted the need to include their use in airports. For this reason, Indra has adapted this system to monitor luggage using a range of appropriate dimensions. It has also designed a pedestal system that can be placed in terminal walkways to detect abnormal radioactivity levels in passengers.

The system is ready to also be used in the metal, recycling and waste management industry, as well as in the disassembly of nuclear plants, in order to classify waste according to their hazardousness.

León, R&D reference in security

This radioactivity detector is the second marketable system that Indra has developed using the results obtained from the CENIT Explosive Detection Systems for Public Infrastructures R&D project.

Thanks to this R&D effort, the company recently also launched an advanced x-ray luggage inspection system to the market that can be used in airports, stations or official buildings. In addition, Indra is currently making progress in the development of a body scanner for identifying dangerous objects or explosives hidden under clothing. The system has been conceived to be used in critical infrastructures and will allow passengers to be inspected as they travel through walkways at a normal speed.

The CENIT Explosive Detection Systems for Public Infrastructures R&D project is an initiative that has been led by Indra's Centre of Excellence for Security Systems (CES) in Leon and is backed by the Centre for Technological Industrial Development (CDTI).

The initiative concluded at the Final Congress that took place on July 4th and 5th in León, where the results obtained were analysed. The programme has focused on performing base research on a series of technologies and on developing prototypes to be validated in real settings. This work allows companies to then undertake the development of new systems in order to increase their competitiveness.

The companies Arquimea, Alfa Imaging, Gate, Valencia Port Authority, Das Photonics, ISDEFE, Madrid Metro, Multiscan Technologies and Ramen participated in the project. Support has also been received from technological centres and universities such as the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (UPV), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Universidad de León, Universidad de Valladolid, Universidad Carlos III and Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB). In addition, State Ports, ADIF and AENA, among others, have also participated as observers and potential users.    

The project's field of research has included DMA technology (Differential Mobility Analyser, which detects explosive particles in the air based on the analysis of ion mobility), which has allowed the Ramem company's positioning on a European level; chemiluminescent markers (particles that emit light when they are in contact with explosives), with which Das Photonics and Arquimea have worked on; and millimetric and terahertz waves (that make it possible to detect explosives hidden under clothing at distances of more than 25-30 metres), which Alfa Imaging and Gate have researched.

Indra has centred its work on the area of LIBS spectroscopy, which detects elemental (atoms) breakage signals generated after highly energetic laser excitation (“spark”); the Raman spectroscopy that allows to obtain a “finger print” of materials in order to identify explosives more precisely; as well as radioactivity detection platforms, image analysis systems for detecting suspicious behaviour, and advanced x-ray systems, in this last area having worked in cooperation with Multiscan Technologies.

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The capabilities of all the mentioned technologies have been validated, with the coordination of Isdefe, in two events that included simulations of real scenarios, first in a quarry and then at the Port of Valencia, thanks to the collaboration of the Valencia Port Authority, using samples from real explosives.

Source: Indra
Date: Jul 5, 2012