October 10, 2011 — Vol. 27 No. 40
Idaho State University and radiation technology company ScanTech have announced a partnership that will create a testing ground for the latest in national security technology.
The company is providing Eric Burgett, ISU assistant professor in the School of Engineering, Department of Nuclear Engineering and Health Physics, with the use of a high-quality accelerator that can scan and view the insides of large land and sea cargo containers. There are currently only two such accelerators in use in the world.
ScanTech has begun to deliver equipment for its operation at the Ballard Building, a new laboratory complex recently purchased by Idaho State University. Burgett said the equipment could be operational by spring 2012.
Unlike an x-ray, these scanners can tell whether round packages contain fruit or drugs, and can even detect bacteria such as listeria. Being able to see what has been put in cargo containers from overseas could have implications for national security. Products tested at ISU will go to border crossings and ports-of-entry.
"It gives us the ability to image not only cargo containers, but we'll be able to take the same accelerator and use it for nuclear energy research," Burgett said.
The high-tech imaging accelerator may also enable ISU researchers to implement new, cost-effective techniques in irradiating fruits and produce, thus eliminating impurities and pathogens such as listeria and salmonella bacteria.
A third possible application of the innovative technology is the irradiation of medical equipment, specifically surgical instruments. Currently instruments have to be shipped out of the area, which is costly.
Idaho State University President Arthur Vailas said ScanTech is just the first company to announce a partnership with ISU to use the former Ballard Medical buildings. The facility was designed to host research partnerships with both the private and public sector.
ScanTech President and CEO Dolan Falconer, whose company is based in Georgia, said he is excited to build opportunities for students, and a relationship with businesses in the community. ScanTech also partners with Premier Technologies in Blackfoot.
"This will grow into commercial, long-term strategic partnerships for manufacturers to actually help us in manufacturing and assembling for deployment of our product around the world for sale and income," he said.
Falconer and Vailas also noted how these types of partnerships create unique learning opportunities for ISU students.