CBRNE & EOD Defence

Bacteria take the strain for undersoil explosives detection

26 November 2019

Researchers in the United States are developing a modular system for detecting buried TNT at source, by blending genetic engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science.

In the 18-month Bioreporters for Subterranean Surveillance programme, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and announced on 12 November, Raytheon and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are researching how to modify bacterial DNA for this purpose. Results are due for delivery to the DARPA Biological Technologies Office (BTO) in February 2021. DARPA solicited proposals in November 2018 in a Broad Agency Announcement (Special Notice DARPA-SN-19-08).

“The goal of the Bioreporters project is to be able to detect TNT one metre underground,” explained Dr Allison Taggart, principal investigator in the Bioreporters for Subterranean Surveillance programme at Raytheon BBN Technologies.

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