Chemistry

News and events

15 Apr 2016

Loughborough University invention could help prevent another Brussels style attack

As the world reels from the Brussels bombings, a device created at Loughborough University could provide the answer to safeguarding the travelling public.

ExDtect – the brainchild of Loughborough professor John Tyrer – can identify tiny amounts of explosive particles invisible to the naked eye.

Using complex laser technology it can remotely scan vehicles, cargo and crowded areas, such as airports, train stations and sports stadiums, automatically alerting an operator if it detects traces of explosives and accurately pinpointing its location.

The system is non-invasive, works in real time and causes no delays to the public or businesses.  It is fully automated, ruling out human error, and the images produced are no more controversial than those generated by CCTV.

ExDtect will soon be used to scan cargo for an international courier, and discussions are taking place with several other international organisations which are also keen to use the technology.

Professor Tyrer, from the University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, created the device along with colleagues from the Department of Chemistry.

“Sadly it seems inevitable now that we are going to see more and more terrorist attacks like those we recently witnessed in Brussels,” says Professor Tyrer.  “And had our device been in operation at Brussels Airport I firmly believe those terrorists would have been identified and prevented from entering the terminal.

“Never has there been a more urgent need to have technology in place that can accurately and remotely identify cargo, vehicles and people that have been in contact with explosives.

“When you handle an explosive, the chemicals and various constituent components present, leave traces on your fingers and clothes, and are transmitted to anything you touch.  Using some of the laser technology that we have invented here at Loughborough over the past few years, we have been able to create a device that can see the explosives and reject all other materials.

“This really is British engineering and inventiveness at its best - tackling a global threat to public safety.”