ALERT Demos Tech at Centers of Excellence Technology Showcase
June 28, 2016
ALERT brought its advances in explosives detection research to the 2016 Centers of Excellence Technology Showcase in Washington D.C. last month. The event featured “Chat with an Expert” sessions, informational tables for each center, information on training opportunities, and live demonstrations. The Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate, Office of University Programs hosted the showcase at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington D.C. for over 250 government agencies and first responders.
Professor Jimmie Oxley represented ALERT in one of the “Chat with an Expert” sessions, which allowed participants to have 10 minutes of one-on-one time with each expert to discuss specific technologies, center research, or opportunities for partnership. Professor Oxley also led ALERT’s live demo of the day: “Trace Explosives Aids for Scent (TEAS).” Her research team developed a method of polymer encapsulation that is used to create safe trace explosives sources. Their research results show that Polycarbonate microspheres containing only a low percentage of Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP) last for years, yet produce pure TATP vapor when heated at the designated program rate. Although they contain small amounts of actual explosives material, these TEAS are called pseudo-explosives because they have no potential to explode, thus providing users with safe access to stored hazardous explosives at trace levels for the purpose of training K-9s and calibrating instrumentation.
Currently, 29 groups have tested prototypes of ALERT’s training aids, including NY MTA Police, MA State Police, Toronto Police, and industry collaborators such as K-9 Search On Site, and FLIR Systems, Inc.
The Live Demo
Officer William Qualls and his K-9 partner, Nate, demonstrated how they use TEAS in the field by having attendees hide one of the activated TEAS somewhere in the Showcase space and then having Nate work to find it. Travis Kisner, Director of Engineering from Detectachem, presented the microsphere heater Detectachem developed for use with ALERT’s TEAS.
ALERT’s Research and Networking with End Users
ALERT team members, Emel Bulat (Industry Liaison) and Deanna Beirne (Director of Computer Services), presented ALERT technologies and center capabilities to the broad showcase audience. Center tools like VAST, PIMS and MVCTC were highlighted by the team and were of great interest to the participants. Videos and Fact Sheets for each tool were also on display.
The event resulted in dozens of connections for the center and a better understanding of what challenges end users like U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration are facing. ALERT is looking forward to furthering linkages with end users and providing solutions to those challenges in our areas of expertise.
Photo caption: Using ALERT’s Trace Explosives Aids for Scent (TEAS), Officer William Qualls interacts with his K-9 partner, Nate, as he identifies a bag containing TEAS. Nate sits by the location where he detects explosives.