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Innovative nanotech-based detection equipment in the area of homeland security

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NASUM (Innovative nanotech-based detection equipment in the area of homeland security)

Reporting period: 2016-10-01 to 2017-01-31

NASUM project addresses homeland security applications.
Explosives Trace Detection (ETD) technology is used at airports, ports, cargo facilities and at the access control points of critical infrastructure. The goal is to intercept, and to prevent access, to people who have handled explosives.
With today's heightened threat of terrorism, high-risk facilities, transportation, and government agencies have been using explosives trace detection for several years.
In a context of increasing terror attacks, illegal immigration and organized crime, the European government budget agencies planners increased Homeland Security (HLS) & Public Safety (PS). Hence, with the stress on improved security within the EU, there has been a surge in demand for technologies that helps detect threats at airports, rail station, seaports and borders.
NASUM will contribute to enrich in number and in quality/performance the available solutions for explosive detection sector, contributing indirectly to European and global security issues.
The business idea derives from a NTA proprietary technological and innovative platform. The platform gives origin to a new generation of miniature, mechatronic analytical instruments able to measure ANY volatile compounds in ANY environment, processing at molecular level the minimum possible number of molecules, thus, ensuring a wide possible range of applications with a strong efficiency in each environment.
Main advantages of the solution proposed are based on two pillars:
- design simplification and high cost efficiency: the implementation of smart and original layout will allow realizing miniature, chemical and pressuring measurement instruments.
- device portability: the new instruments will be able to ensure a wide possible range of applications with a strong efficiency in each environment.
The main objectives of the feasibility study financed under SME Instrument Phase I were:
- to complete the final layout and product design, select key suppliers and define prototype experimental set up;
- to define the certification phases;
- to identify all measures to protect company’s knowledge;
- to fine tune the executive dissemination and exploitation plan;
- to elaborate the executive business plan.
All the envisaged objectives have been achieved with positive results and, therefore NTA is committed to continue with the project. The strategic vision of the company with respect to NASUM project has been enhanced by the results of the feasibility study.
The objective of the initial project application remained the same: to develop, manufacture and commercialize sophisticated, rapidly deployable, smart, and easy-to-operate ETD devices.
The inputs from the technology feasibility allowed to underpin a technology roadmap which has identified the key partners, key activities, and key resources to deliver the technology, operational and commercial strategies. Thus, the business model has been detailed through the application of the business model Canvas and integrated with the SWOT analysis.
The impact assessment has been improved through a more detailed analysis of the users segments and their needs. The market trends have been analyzed into detail from different prospective (segments, geographical etc.). Other potential applications and acquisition of new customers from other sectors have been explored.
With respect to the financial projections in the initial application, the growth impact of the company is more relevant in terms of turnover , thus, confirming the financial sustainability and economic feasibility of NASUM project.
The financial needs in order to implement the ambitious project proposed by NTA derives mainly from the cost of R&D&I activities necessary to achieve TRL 9 of NASUM and to finalize the process of industrialization, which will consent to launch the product on the market.
The process proposed by NTA is not a simple miniaturization process of standard “macroscopic” measurement devices (e.g. standard pressure gauge or gas analyzer): the latter, even if widely in use nowadays, is meant to reduce costs by optimizing processes and simplifying a few components, but the trade-off between miniaturization processes and measurements’ sensitivity and resolution is still huge.
Current analytical detection in homeland security applications are complex, large and sometime expensive equipment to perform measurements, and generally for these reasons are not conducted in a massive way but on samples.
Nowadays, even if more tailored technologies (IMS, SAW-MS, GC-SAW) are used in order to reduce dimensions, time of analyses, deployment costs and a better portability, such systems still cannot avoid in any case to have relatively huge inlet gas flow to deal with, consequently demanding almost always differential vacuum sections, complicated manifold systems and vacuum pumps.
On the contrary, NTA technology can drastically change the way to perform the measures leading to an extreme instrumentation simplification. Thus, NTA universal nano-instruments offer significant technological and competitive advantages: miniaturization, universality, portability, high performance and reliability of these nano-instruments make them easy to be interfaced in active and proactive way into customers’ systems.
Finally, from a social perspective, NASUM will contribute to increase the safety in transportation and critical infrastructures segments. Indeed, following recent ISIS terror attacks at airports (Brussels, Istanbul etc.), the importance of an effective European airport security environment and its effect on the aviation security market has become a key issue. The same is applicable to reduce the vulnerabilities of European critical infrastructure sites.
Sampling nano pore interface covering the ionization region: ion beam exit