New "Bomb Sniffing" Technology

New technology being developed in Richland could improve the safety of air travel.  Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created a new device that can detect vapors from explosives, which could foil possible bombers.

At most international airports, bomb sniffing dogs are the best technology available to find explosives before they end up on a plane. But now, researchers at PNNL may be putting sniffer dogs out of business.

Researcher Robert Ewing and two others  have developed a device that detects explosive vapors.
Not particles, but vapors of explosives such as nitroglycerine, dynamite, gunpowder, and RDX which is found in C-4 plastic explosives. 

This means at airports luggage, cargo, or people could pass by the device, and if even the smallest trace of an explosive is present, the machine would catch it.

This technology could have stopped the likes of Richard Reed, the shoe bomber, or the so-called underwear bomber who boarded a Northwest Airlines flight bound for the US on Christmas 2009.

The next step is for PNNL to work with a commercial manufacturer to come up with a prototype for the device.  Researchers hope it will be in use at airports within a few years.