AAPS Lends a Hand in New Cargo Scanning Device

In collaboration with researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa and a consortium of government and private industry stakeholders, Advanced Applies Physics Solutions Inc., set out to improve the way that cargo bound for Canada is analyzed for dangerous materials through the development of the Cosmic Ray Inspection and Passive Tomography (CRIPT) device.

The CRIPT device harnesses naturally occurring radiation from outer space (specifically, the particles called muons that shower down on us) to passively inspect the interiors of containers on earth, revealing high-density nuclear materials such as uranium or plutonium.  The naturally occurring muons transit through the cargo containers and will only deflect from dense nuclear materials. The CRIPT sensing system precisely detects these minute deflections to better than three millimeters and produces an image for security personnel, alerting them to the contents of the shipment.

“This system’s real innovation is in the way it handles muon detection and deflection,” said John Armitage, a professor of physics at and lead Carleton researcher on the project. “Our goal is to be able to scan a cargo container in less than 30 seconds.”

The project was initiated in 2009 and was completed in September 2012. It passed its final milestone in 2013, as an air cargo container was lifted into the scanner and the electronics were switched on. Since then, CRIPT has been successfully scanning a variety of objects to test its performance.


In addition to detecting smuggled nuclear material, this “muon tomography” technique can also be used to verify that spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power reactors and nuclear waste are stored safely. The technology also shows promise for other counter-terrorism applications.

AAPS was proud to partner with Carleton University researchers, Defense Research and Development Canada, Atomic Energy Canada Ltd, the Canada Border Services Agency and International Safety Research of Ottawa in the development of CRIPT, and looks forward to being part of future collaborations.

Funding for the project was provided by the former Chemical, Biological Radiological-Nuclear and Explosives Research and Technology Initiative led by Defense Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science.

–adapted from Carleton University News http://newsroom.carleton.ca/2013/04/26/carleton-unveils-new-scanning-device/