Scanner solves liquid issue at security checkpoints

A UK spin-out from the Science & Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratories has developed a bottle scanner that will enable aircraft passengers to carry liquid items larger than 100 ml once more.

Insight/100 scanner developed by Cobalt Light Systems, a spin-out from STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, checks bottles at airport security points. Source: STFC.
Insight/100 scanner developed by Cobalt Light Systems, a spin-out from STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, checks bottles at airport security points. Source: STFC.

A UK spin-out from the Science & Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratories has developed a bottle scanner that will enable aircraft passengers to carry liquid items larger than 100 ml once more.

The restriction on liquids was introduced following a failed al-Qaeda bomb plot in August 2006 to bring down several airliners departing London for North America; the terrorists aimed to use liquid explosives carried onto aircraft in bottles.

But now, thanks, to Cobalt Light Systems’ (Harwell, UK) Insight/100 bottle scanner, airports could now allow passengers to take items such as water, cosmetics, perfumes, and duty-free products through airport security channels starting as soon as 2013.

The Insight/100 scanner -- which has exceeded the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) Type B Standard 2 standard for use at airports -- is capable of identifying explosives unambiguously inside opaque bottles such as colored plastic shampoo containers, or green glass wine bottles.

Other systems do not precisely identify the threat reliably and may lead to large numbers of false alarms or to missing genuine threats.

The system uses a proprietary technology called spatially offset Raman spectroscopy (SORS), which was pioneered at the Central Laser Facility of the Science & Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratories, and led to the creation of Cobalt Light Systems.

The development of the system was funded under the Innovative Research Call in Explosives and Weapons Detection (2010) initiative, a cross-government programme sponsored by a number of UK government departments.

The system is currently in trials at several major airports.

-- By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design

More in Defense & Aerospace