Scientists at Bangor University are helping develop new technology to protect air passengers from terror attacks. The scientists are working on sensor technology which they hope will detect explosives at airports.
They are part of Nanosecure, a European consortium of academics and industrialists developing an integrated system which will detect airborne explosives, narcotics, chemical and biological agents.
The system will also be able to decontaminate the air from chemical and bio agents should some be detected by integrating with a building's air-conditioning units.
This news comes after last week's discovery of explosive devices on board two cargo planes at East Midlands Airport and Dubai.
“The group's aim is to integrate the new system with existing security measures at airports. One of the consortium's partners is Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport where the units will be trialled,” said Chris Gwenin, the School of Chemistry.
The School of Chemistry is the lead institution in the development of the explosives sensor that will be used in the detection unit.
"The recent international security alerts show a high level of innovation in the creation of terrorist explosive devices,” Gwenin said.
"With the use of commercial explosive, it is clear that detection technology is needed to avoid even more airport checks and further increases in passenger waiting times." He added their approach to this technology is based around the use of enzymes which detect different substances.
"The research has shown that this technology could also be used to activate an anticancer pro drug which will enable enzymes to be administered into cancerous tissue which will only react when a drug is administered, thereby localizing the poison rather than treating the entire body and producing side effects," Gwenin said.
Existing detection systems at airports would not have detected the explosives found on board the planes last Friday.
Analysis of the devices has found the explosives were at least 50 times more potent than would be needed to blow a hole in an aircraft fuselage. New security measures affecting cargo through the UK have come into force.