Agreement has been reached between FOI and Portendo AB to collaborate on research and development for the next generation of explosives detectors. This collaboration is a response to the urgent need for new and better methods of explosives detection required to counter today’s greatest single terrorist threat, that of explosive devices intended to kill.
FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency, possesses one of the world’s best explosives laboratories staffed by specialists who are international leaders in their field. Portendo AB, a Swedish start-up company with world-class expertise in explosives detection technology, has developed its revolutionary nSure technology as a basis for a new type of explosives detector. Low cost, simple operation and high sensitivity are some of the key advantages offered by this technology.
In Madrid, in March 2004, 191 persons died, and similarly in London, in July 2005, 56 lost their lives as a direct consequence of bomb attacks on public transport. A similar scenario could also take place in Sweden, where 900,000 people are out and about in Central Stockholm every day.
“At present there are no really good detectors for explosives,” says Henric Östmark, Research Director, Weapons and Protection at FOI. Sensors do of course exist, for example those that so many passengers have experienced at airports, but these only detect a few different explosive substances. There are thousands of substances which can be used in bomb-making, of which several dozen at least pose an immediate threat.
Portendo’s nSure technology has shown promising results in tests and it focuses on solving many of the problems associated with today’s equipment. First and foremost, it is designed to be able to detect a multitude of different substances while maintaining a high level of sensitivity and enabling a detection device to be produced which is both cost-effective and easy to use.
“Portendo’s SERS-based technology is typically a technique which enables detectors to be made more efficient and less costly, so helping to avert the threat of terrorist attack on the underground network and other public transport,” says Henric Östmark.
The collaboration between FOI and Portendo is directed mainly towards the further development of Portendo’s SERS-based nSure technology and to adapt it for the detection of explosive substances. But the work is also intended to include a study of the possibilities of commercialising ESSEX, a detection technique developed at FOI. ESSEX is one stage more advanced and early results suggest that it could offer extremely high precision and a lower false alarm rate.
“The collaboration with FOI gives us access to world-class expertise in explosives research as well as providing us with an extremely well-equipped laboratory for testing our n-Sure technology on a range of explosive substances,” says Pierre Strömbeck, Portendo’s Managing Director.
“Portendo’s innovative thinking and new ideas represent a new inspiration in the market for explosives detection,” says Henric Östmark. “That is why this collaboration is just what is needed.”
Portendo develops and markets detection technology, primarily for the detection of explosive substances and threat alarm systems. The company was founded in 2005 by Pierre Strömbeck, Peter Strömbeck, Daniel Svensson and Hans Mellström, and currently has seven employees. Portendo’s patented nSure technology has been developed in collaboration with a number of research agencies and in tests has achieved world-leading results.
FOI is an assignment-based authority under the Ministry of Defence. The core activities are research, method and technology development, as well as studies for the use of defence and security. The organisation employs around 1250 people of whom around 900 are researchers. This makes FOI the largest research institute in Sweden. FOI provides its customers with leading expertise in a large number of fields such as security-policy studies and analyses in defence and security, assessment of different types of threats, systems for control and management of crises, protection against and management of hazardous substances, IT-security and the potential of new sensors.