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NIST Researchers Develop Shoe Sampling Device to Sense Trace Quantities of Explosives

A team of engineers led by Matthew Staymates at the National Institute of Standards and Technology has designed an air sampling system prototype that is capable of detecting miniscule amounts of explosives on airway passengers, paving the way to enhance travel safety without irritating the passengers.

The prototype can blow off and collect particles rapidly from the shoe surfaces for further analysis. The team has devised various editions of the prototype system. Staymates stated that one version resembles a kiosk-style device in which people have to enter in to perform the sampling without removing their shoes. The device has air jets at strategic spots to remove particles from the surface of the shoe and all freed particles are guided towards the preferred direction by a bulk flow field created by a large blower in the device, Staymates added.

Staymates further said the commercialization of the sampling system that can suck particles within 6-7 s needs the combination of a chemical analyzer and a particle collection device. The integration of a chemical analyzer and particle collection device can be done with the existing prototype, however it does not come under the scope of the project, he added.

The role of the National Institute of Standards and Technology was to identify the basic link between trace aerodynamic sampling and fluid dynamics, and employ the results for the advancement of future-generation sampling techniques, Staymates said. The development of a commercial device is the task of the private industry, he added.

Staymates will deliver a presentation titled ‘Design and Characterization of an Aerodynamic Shoe Sampling System for Screening Trace Explosive Materials’ about the prototype device at APS Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting being conducted at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland from 20 to 22 November 2011.

Source: http://www.aip.org

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