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New Battelle Aerosol Detection Technology

Detecting and identifying hazardous airborne contaminants is important, but extremely difficult. Building an instrument that can detect and identify both biological and chemical particles in the air is even more difficult. Now try making that sophisticated scientific instrument rugged enough so it can be deployed in challenging and dirty environments, like military air bases or subway platforms. Final challenge: Make it inexpensive, easy to operate, and able to run 24-hours, every day, year-round.

Battelle has met this set of difficult challenges with its patented Resource Effective Bio-Identification System (REBS), which has recently reached some significant, positive milestones.

"We've made dramatic improvements to the current state-of-the-art in hazardous aerosol detection and identification," said Matt Shaw, General Manager of Battelle's CBRNE Defense business. "We've reduced the time it takes to detect and identify a hazardous aerosol, reduced the time to update the system to search for new hazards, and significantly reduced cost -- from purchase price through unit logistics costs."

REBS is a one-of-a kind system that provides rapid and flexible aerosol detection, identification and enumeration capability. The laser-based system continuously monitors the air, looking for dangerous aerosols that pose potential for jeopardizing the safety of people, products or facilities. The system preserves samples for subsequent confirmation, is network-ready, and is able to look for new or different materials within 24 hours of their identification.

The system has been tested over the past several years in various Battelle and government-sponsored tests -- including in Boston's subway. Most recently, a series of successful tests was carried out in which multiple REBS systems demonstrated the ability to rapidly detect and identify airborne biological warfare agents at levels relevant for early warning purposes.

While REBS is primarily designed to be used for military and homeland security applications, potential future uses are being explored in places such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, food safety and hospitals as companies strive to minimize contamination and protect their employees. Four units were recently sold to an international company.

REBS evolved from Battelle's proven biodetection experience and capabilities during the past few decades. Battelle worked on the Army's original Biological Integrated Detection System (BIDS) in the early 1990s, and has been the lead biosuite developer and producer of the Department of Defense's Joint Biological Point Detection System, which now has several hundreds of units deployed around the world.

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