Published On: Thu, Aug 13th, 2020

Block MEMS wins DHS-CWMD contract for detecting chemical threats on shipped parcels

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Block MEMS has bagged a contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) for on-the-move standoff detection of trace quantities of drugs like fentanyl, chemical warfare agents (CWAs), explosives, and toxic chemicals on parcels shipped to and within the US.

The gas analysis and chemical detection technology provider under the contract worth $1.7 million will develop a fieldable prototype Trace Chemical Detector (TCD) for screening the external surfaces of parcels for trace chemicals while they are being moved on a conveyor belt at operational speeds.

According to Block MEMS, the Trace Chemical Detector can detect the chemicals of interest, which include explosives, opioids, agent precursors, chemical agents, and pharmaceuticals at relevant levels of concentration. The company said that the program will culminate with an operational system being tested for its performance at a government-designated facility in an operational environment.

Block MEMS wins DHS-CWMD contract for detecting chemical threats on shipped parcels

Block MEMS wins DHS-CWMD contract for detecting chemical threats on shipped parcels. Photo courtesy of Block Engineering, LLC.

Block MEMS said that the Trace Chemical Detector project will significantly make use of its current contract “Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures” (SILMARILS) program, which was funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and managed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

Under the past phases of SILMARILS, Block MEMS by using its eye-safe proprietary quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) claims to have successfully shown the ability of hyperspectral imaging for the detection and mapping of the location of trace quantities of chemicals on a wide range of surfaces at standoff distances of up to 25 meters. Furthermore, it was possible to make measurements at high speeds, within a few seconds, claimed Block MEMS.

Al Weggeman – Block MEMS President said: “This is a great opportunity to partner with the DHS CWMD group to advance the creation of much needed solutions that address threats posed by mail-borne WMD’s. We are humbled and excited to have been chosen for such an important and impactful project.”

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