FLIR Unveils Enhanced Chemical Trace Detector

By Allyson Versprille
FLIR Systems has developed a new chemical detection system that could provide service members with greater accuracy and precision when screening for explosives and other security threats at military installations, said one executive. 

The Griffin 844 is the latest addition to the company’s Griffin 800-series trace detector product line. It operates similarly to what is used at security checkpoints today — a user swabs a surface, places the collected sample into the detector, the device performs automatic analysis and within seconds the system’s screen presents an alarm or all clear indication.

However, the Griffin 844 uses an identification technique known as mass spectrometry as opposed to ion-mobility spectrometry (IMS), the technology commonly used in screening devices today, said Dave Cullin, vice president of sales and programs for FLIR Detection.

Mass spectrometry provides “at least a 10-fold increase in resolving power over existing IMS technologies that are out there,” he said. “The result of having that 10 or maybe greater than 10-fold resolution increase is you end up with lower false positives, which means that your answer is much more accurate.”

The ability to sort and identify materials more effectively offers several advantages, he explained. “The things that are dangerous — explosive materials, chemical materials, narcotic materials that may enter the device — they are chemically distinct in terms of the kind of atoms [they have] … but they might have other physical parameters that make them very similar to each other” such as size, Cullin said. The Griffin 844 would be able to distinguish those differences whereas other systems cannot, he said.

Additionally, being able to better differentiate between two substances enables the military to expand its library of threats. “You have the potential to expand the number of materials that you can identify,” Cullin said. “In today’s world with the kinds of evolving threats that our military has to deal with all of the time — the bad guys invent new things and reinvent countermeasures — the premium on technologies that can evolve and not be stumped by those new threats is a huge” advantage.

Moving forward, FLIR hopes to make its mass spectrometry trace detectors more user-friendly as well as smaller, faster, less expensive and more portable, Cullin said.

The Griffin 844 weighs 45 pounds with dimensions of 19 inches long, 18 inches wide and 18 inches tall.

Topics: Chem Bio Protection, Homeland Security

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