Homeland security highlights from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

In this special issue dedicated to homeland security-related technologies and training, we are highlighting just a few projects that fall within PNNL's approximately $220 million national security portfolio.

Doing double duty to secure borders - Within seconds, a new portable instrument developed at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory can identify high-value metals, such as "dual-use" materials commonly found in industry but also required for production of nuclear weapons. Called the Dual-Use Analyzer, the system enables a border inspector or other field agent to immediately identify cargo and differentiate between metals of similar appearance, eliminating the need for costly off-site analysis.

Using eddy current technology, the Dual-Use Analyzer determines the electrical conductivity of the metal, then compares this signal "signature" against a built-in library of nuclear dual-use and high-value metal signatures. The system also identifies varying metals that may have been "co-mingled" to avoid detection.

The lightweight system consists of a small sensor probe for scanning and a handheld operating platform custom designed by PNNL to ease use and deter theft.

Earlier versions of the analyzer have been deployed to counter smuggling of illicit materials at several international borders, including Kazakhstan, Georgia, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. PNNL now is teaming with Mehl, Griffin & Bartek Ltd., a company located in Arlington, Va., to incorporate final system enhancements, with plans for a commercially available product in 2003. Development sponsors include the departments of Energy, Defense and State.

Tackling bioterrorism one protein at a time - Because biological pathogens grow and spread inside the human body on a molecular level, the key to protecting against bioterrorism may rest in understanding how these pathogens function one protein at a time. Scientists at Pacific Northwest Nationa

Contact: Media Relations
DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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