Kromek's PS4m 'dirty bomb' detector deal; TECH.
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ANORTH East tech firm has been enlisted by the US defence agency to make detectors for "dirty bombs" in a deal worth more than PS4m.
Sedgefield-based Kromek - the pioneering Durham University spin-out - has announced it has been selected by DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defense, as the sole supplier of personal radiation detectors, as part of Sigma, its programme for homeland security.
The agency announced last October its intention to offer the contract to Kromek to supply thousands of personal radiation detectors for servicemen and women. Kromek has produced the D3S, the world's first fully-approved gamma and neutron detector available in volume shipment, a move which sees the firm step up the battle to counter so-called "dirty bomb" terrorism.
Back then, DARPA said it intended to issue a "sole source contract" to the firm - meaning it believed the North East team is the only firm in existence that can provide what it needs.
The company, which also has offices in Huddersfield, Germany, California and Pennsylvania, has been enlisted as part of the Sigma programme, a scheme launched two years ago in a bid to seek out innovative ideas that can "revolutionise detection and deterrent capabilities for countering nuclear terrorism".
The programme leaders said terrorist attacks involving radiological and nuclear materials pose a potential threat to US servicemen and woman, so early detection forms a critical part of the US strategy to prevent attacks, prompting the need for lower-cost and more sensitive detectors.
Kromek will develop an advanced personal detection system for gamma and neutron radiation, kit that can be combined with other such systems to form large networks, providing information on radiation signatures over an extended area - thereby picking up on anomalies in cities that could indicate an act of terrorism, such as a 'dirty bomb'.
The D3S, the world's first detector, costs $400 (PS282) and the initial order is worth $6m (PS4.23m) is for D3S detectors and charging packs.
Kromek has also announced a contract modification worth $750,000 to an existing deal with DARPA, for the "utilisation of the technologies and building blocks, developed by Kromek for the D3S product, in legacy gamma scintillation detectors".
Under the terms of the contract, Kromek will deliver the D3S detectors during the current and next financial year, supplying up to 12,000 Inductive Charging packs for D3S detectors and mobile devices over the same period.
Arnab Basu, chief executive officer of Kromek, said: "The D3S is the world's first fully approved combined gamma and neutron detector available in volume shipment and at a market leading unit price of $400, which is also available to other user organisations buying over 10,000 detectors in a single procurement.
"It is a significant breakthrough for us and we are pleased to have achieved the technological advancement that has enabled DARPA to be ahead of their own original programme performance expectations. We look forward to successfully delivering on the contract."
<BArnab Basu, chief executive of Kromek