January 8, 2018

Block Engineering awarded $10.7M Air Force contract for chemical detection

Marlborough explosives and toxic warfare agent detection device manufacturer Block Engineering has been awarded the second phase of a U.S. Air Force contract worth $10.7 million.

The contract, under the Intelligence Advanced Research Programs and Activity program, has the company developing devices to detect trace quantities of explosives and other threats on multiple surfaces from varying distances.

The company said it was able to demonstrate just that under the first phase by developing a benchtop system "based on quantum cascade lasers and an innovative chemical detection algorithm."

"The algorithm combines powerful data processing techniques, simulations of light/material interactions, and modeling of anticipated detected signatures in order to eliminate the effect of clutter, reduce false alarm rates, and improve limits of detection," the company said.

Now, the company hopes to be able to detect explosives and other chemicals at standoff distances of 30 and 50 meters.

The company said the technology can even help local federal law enforcement detect explosives and pharmaceuticals at home, including powerful painkiller fentanyl, which is quickly becoming infamous due to its heavy abuse and link to opioid addiction and overdoses.

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