What Is Explosive Detection Technology


Authored by Phil Dotree in Technology
Published on 11-06-2009

The field of explosive detection technology encompasses a lot of cool devices and ideas. Experts have dedicated their lives to finding new ways to seek out bombs and other explosives. If you’re looking for cool and well implemented tech, look no further.

Here’s a look at some of the various ways that modern explosives can be detected.

Animal Explosive Detection – This form of explosive detection uses trained animals. Animals are often able to detect minute traces of many types of materials, including explosives. The most famous example of this type of detection is trained dogs. They’re often employed by airports, and can successfully detect bombs in luggage. Honey bees are also being used for explosive detection. However, animal based detection is not perfect. It largely depends on the training and mental state of the animal. Fatigued or uncooperative dogs quickly become less reliable. Training procedures can be very expensive for explosive detection animals. The major advantage of animal based detection is that it can check a large number of packages or bags at once. Also, even with training they’re less expensive than some other forms of detection.

X-Rays –
Most people have put a bag or two through the X-ray scanner at an airport. The purpose of these machines isn’t to simply look inside your things. X-rays developed as explosive detection technology look at the density of items rather than contents. They’re specially designed to help air port workers determine when a bag could potentially detain an explosive. Explosives often show up as different colors on the computer screens of these X-ray machines. This technology is not perfect either, but is a good first line of defense against explosives.

Neutron Explosive Detection –
One of the most accurate forms of explosive detection technology is neutron based detection. They’re based on the proven idea that all explosives are similarly composed, when you observe their basic elements. By sending a stream of neutrons onto a target, these devices find out what they’re “made of.” They can then compare these elements to the elements in explosives. Neutron based detection is incredibly accurate. However, it can be very expensive technology. For that reason, it’s usually only used when explosives are strongly suspected.

Ion Mobility Spectrometry –
This is another common form of explosive detection technology used in airports. Ion Mobility Spectrometry is sometimes called machine olfaction. It detects changes in a layer of ions. These can reflect the explosive potential of a material. Basically, Ion Mobility Spectrometry can be compared to the nose of a bomb sniffing dog. Since it’s machine based, it can be developed more accurately. Airports very commonly use this technology. It’s exceptionally accurate at pointing out explosives and isn’t too expensive to use.

The field of explosive detection technology is constantly changing and advancing. New methods are being developed and used every day to keep people safe. If you know of any other ways that explosives are detected, post below in our comments section. We’d love to hear from you if you have any experience in the field.


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