The country's Ministry of Defense reports scientists at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory -- both individually and collectively -- have created a biological device that can sample and detect a range of hazardous substances and explosives simultaneously and also played a key role in the design and configuration of a new double-hulled tanker fleet for the British navy.
The ministry said the detection device was developed by Peter White in an effort to create a handheld unit for troops and counter-terrorism personnel for sampling hazardous substances and explosives at the same time.
The system, which uses patented technology, enables rapid sampling of as many as eight targets simultaneously, testing powder, liquids or surfaces directly, and has applications across forensic and security areas.
"Devices that are currently fielded do not integrate sampling with detection and are not easy to use if you are wearing gloves," White said. "This invention combines a mature, established detection technology (similar to that used in pregnancy test kits) into an integrated handheld device that could be used by a generalist front-line operator wearing protective clothing."
The Ministry of Defense said DSTL's technology transfer company, Ploughshare Innovations Ltd, has licensed the technology to BBI Detection Ltd., which develops and manufactures detection devices for the security sector. BBI Detection has named White's innovation the Integrated Multiplex Assay and Sampling System and will make it available to customers worldwide.
Among its civilian sector applications -- in addition to forensics and law enforcement -- is testing for food allergens or illegal drugs.
"It's been incredibly exciting to be part of the development and commercialization of the IMASS device," said BBI Detection Managing Director Richard Lamotte. "Obviously its ergonomic design features make it particularly suitable for biodetection in challenging front-line environments.
"It also has a multitude of applications in the wider diagnostic arena. Discussions with potential customers, both within the U.K. and farther afield, have generated significant interest and anticipation for the launch of the final product."
The Ministry of Defense said DSTL has been allocated funding from Britain's Home Office to explore how IMASS could be developed for use by the emergency services in combating terrorism.
In other DSTL developments, the ministry said the organization's scientists played a key role in the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability tanker program.
The double-hulled tankers, being built by South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, will enter service from 2016. The tankers will be more than 650 feet long and will be able to pump enough fuel "to fill two Olympic-sized swimming pools in an hour," the ministry said.
The tankers were specifically configured to support new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The ministry said a DSTL team in 2000 began analyzing the navy's needs and provided analysis supporting key user requirements such as survivability criteria and operational analysis.
"DSTL adopted an innovative systems-based approach to consider the capability requirements and then drew this together into a single measure of ... effectiveness," said DSTL's Alan Lawrence. "This was completed to meet demanding timescales and against a background of rapidly evolving policy, budgetary and commercial considerations from (Ministry of Defense).
"The input which DSTL has provided ensures that this future capability will provide the most cost-effective maritime logistics investment in the coming years."
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