Rapid Detection of Land Mines and Unexploded Ordnance

Period of Performance: 01/15/1998 - 12/31/1999

$745K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Biopraxis, Inc.
10655 Sorrento Valley Road, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92121
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Mines contributed a significant percentage of troop and equipment losses in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam; and mines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) continue killing civilians long after the conflicts themselves have ended. The lack of an effective detector is a major reason for all these losses. The objective of Phase I was to demonstrate the feasibility of Biopraxis' new Checkmate" technology for detecting explosives vapors from mines/UXO. Eleven nitroaromatics were studied, including 2,4,6-TNT, 2,4-dinitro-toluene (the major impurity in military grade TNT), and picric acid, plus other nitrotoluenes, nitroanilines, nitrophenols, nitrobenzene, and dinitrobenzaldehyde. Commercial components were used to demonstrate the specific identification of each nitroaromatic from a signal generated within 60 seconds from 1-5 femtograms of nitroaromatic. Studies also demonstrated detection of less than 0.05 femtogram of nitroaromatic - i.e., less than 200,000 molecules, or 0.00000005 parts per trillion (w/v) - within 60 seconds. By optimizing the hardware and utilizing innovative software, sensitivity can be enhanced by orders of magnitude and/or the response time can be significantly shortened. Analyses also indicated that commercial and prototype hardware can be used to produce hand-held and vehicle-mounted Checkmate" mine/UXO detectors.