Defending and protecting our homeland against acts of foreign and domestic terrorism is an essential mission for Idaho National Laboratory. We develop innovative solutions and technologies meet the challenges faced by our nation. Many of the products developed at INL are utilized across the country and around the world.
Much of the research, development and testing performed for our homeland security mission takes place on the Laboratory’s 890-square mile Critical Infrastructure Test Range which encompasses three primary research areas including Physical Security, Infrastructure Security, and Contraband Detection. The Range’s vast, open space allows for full-scale simulation and product testing which provides results more realistic than computer simulation or modeling.
To protect the nation’s critical infrastructure control systems, INL was selected by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cyber Security Division to lead efforts for increasing cyber technologies, standards and awareness of control systems vulnerabilities. Control systems are the digital automation devices that operate and monitor critical infrastructures like the electric power grid, telecommunication networks and water treatment facilities. The Control Systems Security Program involves the cooperation and participation of private industry, equipment vendors, universities, and other national laboratories to perform risk and vulnerability assessments and develop tools and solutions against known cyber vulnerabilities and exploits. Information about the program can be found on the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team web site.
We have also developed an active interrogation system for the detection of shielded nuclear materials smuggled in large commercial cargo containers. This patent-pending system, called the pulsed photonuclear assessment technology, uses an electron accelerator for the detection of shielded weapons-grade material. INL has teamed with a commercial company to develop a system that can be deployed at the nation’s ports of entry. The system can detect the presence of weapons grade nuclear material and can differentiate between highly enriched uranium, depleted uranium or thorium.
Laboratory scientists, with specialized skills in ion mobility and secondary ion mass spectrometry, are conducting research and performing testing on trace explosives detection systems for DHS and other federal agencies. They perform explosive forensic analysis, design improved sensors and develop detection testing protocols and standards.
Additionally, we perform work in chemical and biological countermeasures by developing and validating a suite of DNA signatures for rapid detection of the pathogen Brucella. Our molecular microbiologists have developed a quick, safe, accurate method to detect the brucellosis strain, B. abortus, in the field, using a field-portable, real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) system. Brucellosis is an infectious bacterial disease caused by the brucella species and can be transmitted from animals-such as cattle-to humans. A strain of brucella, B suis, was the first microorganism developed in the former U.S. biological weapons program.
Some of the other technologies we’ve developed for homeland security applications include our Hazmat Camera system which provides wireless, real-time footage to National Guard Civil Support teams responding to chemical and biological emergencies, our Concealed Weapons Detector which identifies the presence and location of hidden weapons, and the Idaho Explosive Detection System which can detect smuggled explosive devices hidden in cargo trucks.
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