New airport scanner examines liquids
The latest airport security technology being developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory could open the door for airline passengers to bring their soft drinks and full-size shampoo bottles on board again.
Homeland security officials put the latest generation of the bottled liquid scanner to the test Wednesday during a demonstration at Albuquerque's international airport.
Everything from bottled water and champagne to shampoo and pink liquid laxatives were scanned to make sure explosives weren't hiding inside.
The device, about the size of a small refrigerator, uses magnetic resonance to read the liquids' molecular makeup, even when the substances are in metal containers. Within 15 seconds, a light on top of the simple-looking metal box flashes red or green, depending on whether there's danger.
The device is so sensitive it can tell the difference between red and white wine, and between different types of soda.
"What we're doing is really looking for the real dangers, like liquid homemade explosives," said Stephen Surko, program manager of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. "We're just real excited at the progress we're making."
The technology is still a few years from being deployed in the nation's airports, where fears of liquid explosives have stopped passengers from bringing more than small amounts of lotions and other toiletries in their carry-on bags. Surko said the lab will have to partner with a manufacturer, and the machines will have to go through testing and certification.
-- Associated Press
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