Monday, April 18th, 2011

Scantex, created at the University of Tasmania's (UTAS) Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science (ACROSS), has shown the potential to detect inorganic explosives within 60 seconds, saving critical time at airports and other mass transit venues where security is a major concern.

With substantial investment from a commercial partner, the high-speed, precision screening technology providing greater security at airports around the world in less than five years.

The University's research commercialisation partner, UniQuest Pty Limited, is working with the ACROSS team to find a commercial partner and to prepare the Scantex technology for a global launch.

Inorganic compounds are common ingredients in Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), such as the bombs and booby traps used by terrorists to cause personal harm and property damage. Examples include chemicals such as ammonium nitrate (used in fertilizers), and potassium chlorate and potassium perchlorate.

Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development, Dr Robin Fieldhouse, said Scantex aims to do what no current screening of explosives in mass transit applications can: detect, analyse and identify inorganic explosives in around one minute.

"Other instrumental techniques such as Ion Chromatography take longer to achieve the same level of effectiveness and they are geared towards detecting  organic high explosives like TNT and C4 or Semtex," Dr Fieldhouse explained.

 "Scantex's novel features would enhance the currently available technologies. With more than 55 million passengers a year passing through London's Heathrow airport alone, and air travel around the world continuing to increase, demand for rapid and reliable high-tech security remains high.

"The Scantex technology offers a strong competitive edge to players in this market, which is a growth industry in itself and worth about $4 billion. Then there's the major public events market, which also faces huge security challenges."

Australian and US governments have put their support into the project with research grants totalling $3.5 million over the past seven years.

The Scantex technology was a key outcome of an Australian Research Council Linkage project running from 2006 to 2009, involving ACROSS and seven key partners: the Australian Federal Police, Tasmania Police, Victoria Police, the National Institute for Forensic Science, Dionex Australia Pty Ltd, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Forensic Science South Australia, and the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services.

Multiple inventive aspects of the Scantex technology are the subject of a provisional patent application, creating a strong base for potential business partners to benefit from licensing and co-development arrangements.

"The ACROSS team is working with UniQuest on a number of innovations that have enormous commercial potential, but this is perhaps the one with the best prospects right now for benefitting millions of people every year around the world.

"With the right venture partner, this technology could be in use before the next FIFA World Cup," Dr Fieldhouse said.

Potential investors, licensee or manufacturing partners should contact Dr Fieldhouse for more information: [email protected]

Further information about the research is available on the UTAS website:

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UniQuest Pty Limited

Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.

UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.

Leanne Wyvill
P: +61 7 3365 4037
M: +61 0 409767199


The Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science (ACROSS) was established in 2001 and is a strategic agreement between key researchers at the University of Tasmania, RMIT University and the University of Western Sydney to form a consortium of Australian researchers working in separation science. This consortium aims to maintain an outstanding level of international renown in research on separation science in Australia; coalesce and enhance Australian research on separation science into an organised structure operating with a coordinated research plan which addresses and exploits the most exciting and innovative themes in modern separation science; and provide enabling research and research training of the highest quality which supports and advances all major areas of Australian science. ACROSS offers an organisational and resource base through which these individual researchers can work in a coordinated and synergistic manner under a series of structured and interlocking research programs. Research in ACROSS has been structured into focused programs to provide both fundamental and applied research outcomes in separation science. ACROSS draws together multi-site, internationally prominent and genuinely collaborative research teams, having complementary skills and synergistic resource-base expertise, and committed to focused programs of national significance.
Robin Fieldhouse
P: +61 3 6226 6299
M: 0420749535


UniQuest, UTAS, bomb, security, IED, mass transit, airport, technology investment, ACROSS



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