Eureka! Air cargo scanning wins top prize
The award recognises outstanding science and/or technology with the potential to develop innovative solutions for Australia’s defence and/or national security.
Security and border protection are key priorities for many countries throughout the world.
Although passenger screening is universal and effective, efficient examination of air cargo at the thousands of airports around the world has been more difficult to implement.
Dr Nick Cutmore, who leads the air cargo scanning technology team, said most air cargo is screened using conventional x-ray scanners.
“X-ray scanners are good at detecting objects based on their density and shape,” Dr Cutmore said.
“Our world-first technology combines neutrons and x-rays to detect and predict the composition as well as the shape and density of an object.”
Combining x-ray and neutron beams generates a composite image of material inside the cargo container, which helps operators more readily identify suspicious materials, such as explosives, drugs and other contraband.
“We’ve drawn on more than three decades of expertise in on-line analysis of minerals and applied this knowledge to develop an analysis technology for security applications,” he said.
CSIRO’s air cargo scanning technology was trialled successfully at Brisbane airport and is now being commercialised in conjunction with Chinese security inspection specialist Nuctech Company Ltd.
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia’s premier science awards and reward excellence in the fields of scientific research and innovation, science leadership, school science and science journalism and communication.