General Electric scientists are delving deeper into the nuclear weapon detection field as they continue to tweak medical imaging technology they helped pioneer.
The federal Department of Homeland Security has given GE Global Research a green light to start developing a prototype mobile radiation detector. The device will be based on the GE Healthcare’s nuclear medicine imaging technology.
The Niskayuna research and development operation announced today it has secured funding to embark on the second phase of a $7 million multi-phased program that started in October 2007. GE scientists will develop a working prototype that can from a moving vehicle identify and pinpoint radioactive sources from long distances.
The Standoff Radiation Imaging System would allow law enforcement officers and first responders to search for nuclear threats at bridges, tunnels and high traffic areas from SUVs or other vehicles. Doctors use similar imaging technology to detect cancers.
“We’re leveraging our expertise in health care imaging,” said GE Global Research spokesman Todd Alhart.
The funding promises to broaden GE research and development work in the nuclear detection field. In April 2007, GE Global Research announced the Department of Homeland Security had awarded it $2.5 million in initial funding for a digital X-ray radiation detector that will be used on steel cargo containers and automobiles at U.S. ports and border crossings. It is being adapted from the medical digital X-ray technology GE scientists invented in Niskayuna.
Under a separate Homeland Security project, GE’s security arm is also looking to add a nuclear detection component to its video surveillance technology. GE Security’s portfolio already includes equipment that detects explosives, narcotics, chemicals and biological threats.
“Radiation detection is a new market GE is interested in getting into,” Alhart said.