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Rapid, portable and reliable cargo screener - New concept of vapour screening technology - Ion Mobility Chemical Fingerprint Detector

Project description

Innovative screening system for illicit goods detection

Customs authorities require portable, cost-effective and dependable screening technologies to combat the trafficking of illicit goods. Traditional X-ray screening methods are both expensive and time-consuming, and only inspect a small fraction of containers, less than 5 %. The EU-funded METEOR project is developing a portable and versatile air-sampling-based screening system that can help customs administrations worldwide to swiftly detect illicit goods. The METEOR technology features an innovative cargo-screening detector, employing highly efficient air-sampling techniques and ion mobility multi-detector sensing technology. The METEOR analyser uses a multi-detector differential mobility analyser to create a chemical profile of samples, which is then processed using non-targeted screening techniques to detect potential threats, including illicit drugs and explosives.


Safe and legal global transport is essential to human welfare, but it demands that customs authorities implement security regulations with a special focus on illicit goods. To enable enforcement of regulations tackling illicit goods trafficking, customs authorities have expressed their need for portable, affordable, non-intrusive, reliable screening technologies aiming to facilitate on-site and rapid inspections.
The current technologies are mainly based on X-ray screening, but have its limitations in detecting illicit goods, are very expensive and the process is time consuming. This makes that currently less than 5% of the containers may be inspected, which is undesirable for customs authorities and society.
In the METEOR project, the consortium will develop a prototype of a portable and versatile air sampling-based screening system. This will enable customs administrations worldwide to rapidly and reliably inspect for the presence of illicit goods. The METEOR technology will provide a new concept of cargo screening detector with a highly efficient air sampling technique and the ion mobility multidetector sensing technology.
The METEOR analyser relies on a very innovative concept of a multi-detector differential mobility analyser (DMA), that classifies molecular ions based upon their electrical mobility. This generates a chemical fingerprint of the samples, and after the processing with non-targeted screening techniques, it is possible to accurately classify and detect the threats. The focus will be on the detection of illicit drugs, but also explosives and other substances. The goal is to develop the METEOR technology up to TRL7, and validate it in the operational environment. This is done by the four customs administrations (The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Ireland) involved in the project, that cover some of the main ports in Europe.


Net EU contribution
€ 657 630,00
2400 Mol

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Antwerpen Arr. Turnhout
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 657 630,00

Participants (10)

Partners (1)