Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


C-BORD Report Summary

Project ID: 653323
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.7.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - C-BORD (effective Container inspection at BORDer control points)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Control of cargo containers has been a main challenge for more than a decade in Homeland Security applications whose importance should be viewed in light of recent dramatic terrorist attacks. Here, many different threat materials, such as drugs or explosives, are of great interest for customs, terminal operators and freight forwarders. Moreover, the detection of radioactive sources and nuclear materials is a crucial capability to prevent trafficking and production of dirty or nuclear bombs. Techniques such as X-ray imaging are well-adapted to controlling cargo containers. However an improvement of existing technologies, and their association with new technologies, can better address all these threats.
The C-BORD project has the ambition to meet these challenges by developing and testing a comprehensive cost-effective TRL-7 solution for the inspection of container freight with non-intrusive inspection (NII) techniques, coping with a large range of targets, including explosives, chemical warfare agents, illicit drugs, tobacco, stowaways and Special Nuclear Material (SNM). By developing, combining, trialling and assessing complementary NII technologies in a comprehensive, practical solution, C-BORD pursues four aims in order to protect EU borders:
-Increase the efficiency in container non-intrusive inspection.
-Reduce false negative and false positive alarms.
-Maximise effectiveness and reduce safety risks for customs agents when opening containers for inspection.
-Lay the groundwork for the standardisation of requirements and test procedures for evaporation based detection systems used to inspect large volume freight.
From a technical point of view, C-BORD develops and associates five techniques, non-destructive passive measurements, active photon interrogation, tagged neutron inspection, evaporation based detection, and advanced X-ray imaging, with significant improvements beyond the state-of-the-art. The data from these complimentary techniques will be merged in an enriched end-user interface, based on the X-ray image, for customs decision-making. C-BORD developments will be validated through the deployment of these techniques in real operational conditions in three different countries with different types of border crossing points, modalities, cargo, threats, and operational needs. Three configurations will be tested to assess technological breakthroughs in operational conditions with mock-up and commercial containers selected by customs. The first configuration will be adapted to large ports (High-energy, 9 MeV scanning, Rotterdam), the second will be focused on container terminals (Medium energy, 4-6 MeV scanning, Gdańsk) and the third will be dedicated to road border checks (Hungary).

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The stakeholder requirement specifications have been collected and analysed. These specifications have fed into the work on the C-BORD technologies and guided the definition of the C-BORD Framework.
X-ray: Detection of non-radiological threats (i.e., drugs, tobacco, explosives) is an important aim for C-BORD’s customs partners. Smiths Detection is leading the accuracy improvement for X-ray images from different types of imaging systems: minimization of the impact of scattered radiation and correction of the variations of the incident beam dose and energy. The problem of overlays, intrinsic to a radioscopic image, and the improvement of classes for material discrimination focusing on organic materials are being carefully studied.
Radiation Portal Monitors: Controlling illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear threats is also a key issue. The challenge for C-BORD consists in developing non-destructive methods which are adapted to custom’s needs. For passive systems, this means low-cost plastic scintillators and finding alternatives to 3He detectors. First versions of the Symetrica and CEA systems have been developed and tested. Early results for gamma and neutron detection are promising. Work is ongoing regarding decision algorithms, using X-ray enhanced manifest data for an improved material classification, and using de-convolution techniques to enhance the spectra of alarmed transits.
RRTNIS – Rapidly Relocatable Tagged Neutron Inspection System: Neutron interrogation is used for detecting explosives present in cargo containers. C-BORD aims to significantly reduce the size of previous systems. Large NaI detectors will be integrated in the new system with a few LaBr3 scintillators in order to improve the energy resolution. Advanced algorithmic solutions will also be developed for improving gamma-ray spectra processing and providing rapid threat identification. The conceptual design of the RRTNIS is achieved. The neutron generator, new gamma detectors and electronics subcomponents have been procured and are being tested. The dose rate calculations to define the radiation safety exclusion area have been completed. The requirements and design for the mechanics (TNIS housing and lifter) have been detailed.
Photofission: The purpose is to develop an active system able to detect SNM, even when shielded. The photofission system is based on several sub-systems focused on different types of detection: prompt neutron, delayed neutron, and high-energy delayed gamma-ray detection. A specific module is dedicated to the identification of actinides, in order to discriminate fissile and fertile contributions. In the project, the same LINAC (VARIAN M9) will be used for X-ray measurements and photofission acquisitions, enabling a strong coupling between these techniques. The conceptual design of the photofission system is achieved and Monte Carlo simulations are in progress to evaluate performance. Sub-systems designs are being finalized and tests were done under irradiation.
Evaporation Based Detection: The previous FP7 SNIFFER project was based on a biomimetic approach, combining a pre-concentration step, diamond-based microbalances, odorant binding proteins and machine learning to detect a broad range of substances (e.g., drugs, explosives or stowaways). The challenge in C-BORD is to apply this powerful technique to the analysis of large cargo containers. For this reason, a concept for large-volume sampling of containers has been proposed. The test bed has been built to support the evaluation of sampling systems. The choice of target analytes has been made based on stakeholder requirements. The low-volume and small-volume sampling systems are under development.
The exchange of data, workflow of information, and common data format have been described. A mock-up of the data fusion display has been proposed and specifications described.
Existing standards have been reviewed and assessment plans for the five technologies and for the system as a whole including questionnaires for the practitioners are under development.
The first versions of the three field trial protocols have been issued. On site configurations of the detection devices have been largely agreed as well as an overall test schedule.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The C-BORD Toolbox of TRL7 first- and second-line devices employing non-destructive passive and active techniques and the C-BORD Framework for building comprehensive container inspection solutions will provide improved means for overall border security protection at all EU borders by proposing solutions adaptive to the respective contexts and requirements of customs, from small land border crossings to the large fully automated terminal at the port of Rotterdam.

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