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Liquid identifier could remove need for airline restrictions

Link Microtek : 11 December, 2009  (New Product)
Instant identification of the types of liquids contained in bottles, whether harmless, explosive or corrosive provides the means of lifting security restrictions on cabin baggage contents
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Link Microtek, a specialist supplier of microwave components and systems, has introduced a new liquid identification system that could enable airport authorities to lift restrictions on passengers carrying bottles of liquid in their hand luggage.

The new system, which is known as EMILI 1+, uses an innovative microwave sensing technique to instantly identify whether the contents of a bottle are completely harmless, inflammable, corrosive or explosive.

Originally developed by German company Emisens (a spinout from the Jülich Research Centre), the system is now available worldwide through the company's sales, service and R&D partner, Link Microtek.

At the heart of the EMILI 1+ system is a multimode sensor emitting an evanescent microwave field that penetrates the bottle under test and enables the dielectric permittivity and ionic conductivity of the unknown liquid to be measured. From these parameters, the system identifies the type of liquid in the bottle and immediately displays the result on the screen.

The whole process takes less than one second, which makes the EMILI 1+ particularly attractive for security checkpoints, where speed of operation is a vital consideration. The system works with plastic, glass and ceramic bottles, which are simply placed unopened on the machine. It is ideal for use as a standalone system or in conjunction with existing X-ray scanners, which generally have very limited capability for identifying liquids. The new technology has none of the health-and-safety concerns associated with X-ray equipment.

EMILI 1+ was designed by Emisens managing director, Professor Norbert Klein, who moved from Jülich in October 2009 to join the Department of Materials at Imperial College, London as Professor of Electromagnetic Nanomaterials. He said: 'By rapidly determining the characteristics of an unknown liquid, the EMILI 1+ system could be used to minimise inconvenience for airline passengers, while maintaining the necessary levels of security.'

As well as promoting and providing service support for the EMILI 1+ system, Link Microtek now has a financial stake in Emisens and is using its in-house design and manufacturing facilities to help in the development of new EMILI products.

Link's technical director, Hugo Bibby, commented: 'The technology has a great deal of potential, not only at airports but also in a variety of other security applications. Since it can even identify whether the contents of a bottle are alcoholic, the system would be suitable for security checkpoints at sporting events, music venues and other public gatherings.'

EMILI 1+ has overall dimensions of 780 x 300 x 480mm and weighs 15kg. As it operates from a standard 230 or 110V AC supply, there are no safety risks from high voltages, and it emits no ionizing radiation.
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