The US Department of Homeland Defense Science and Technology Directorate has funded the development of technology that could finally mean passengers can bring liquids back on planes again.
Since the increasing paranoia over terrorist attacks on planes, passengers have been strictly limited in the amount of liquid that they can bring through security.
However, thanks to technology which was originally used to check the quality of bottles of plonk, a Denver based firm will begin developing a prototype machine that will be able to check bottles and cans for explosives without actually opening them.
If successful it will give TSA officials another toy to play with when they are not staring at sexy passenger outlines.
The technology used is very similar to that of an MRI scanner, employing a strong magnetic field along with radio waves to extract a signal that is able to show the chemical structure.
The prototype will be constructed in the laboratory of inventor Matthew Augustine at UC Davis using an initial allocation of $800,000.
Augustine had previously been using the technology to check for bottle’s of wine for spoilage without opening, patenting the design back in 2002.
However following a 2006 plot to blow up a plane using liquid explosives decided to see if it would be possible to use the invention for identifying other liquids.
“I’m a tinkerer, I like to build stuff,” Augustine said.
It was quickly apparent that the technology was able to determine the difference between gasoline and other potentially dangerous liquids from toothpaste or hair gel.
The challenge came in developing a machine that would be easy to use in the airport environment and able to scan liquids from a wide range of containers effectively.
This meant that a design was eventually arrived at that involved a careful trade-off between high-frequency radio waves, which give the best information about chemical structures but are blocked by metal, and lower-frequency waves that could pass through a soda can.
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