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Security and Public Safety

Block is the industry leader for mid-IR, Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) based spectrometers and Passive, Standoff FTIR Spectrometers for the military and public safety markets. Chemical sensing has been a major focus of the military due to the increased threat from improvised explosive devices, traditional and newly emerging nontraditional chemical warfare agents and Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs). Block has years of experience developing and selling spectrometers to the military and public safety markets.

The military has extensively funded Block's development of next generation QCL devices that include systems to detect trace explosives or hazardous materials at a standoff distance. In addition, a single QCL based system could be carried by soldiers that would be capable of both standoff detection and identification of threatening trace substances and provide sub-lethal detection of dangerous gases and liquids. Such capability could also protect the supply chain of food ingredients, pharmaceutical and chemical material and identify erroneous, counterfeit or mislabeled substances at point of incoming inspection.

Block also produces the FTIR spectrometer that is the heart of the Mobile Chemical Agent Detector (MCAD) system, which is used for remote standoff protection of critical facilities against gaseous attacks. Block also sells the PORTable Hazard Observation System (PORTHOS™), which is a portable version of the MCAD. Potential customers for PORTHOS include HazMat Teams, Border Control, Firefighters, Port Authorities, First Responders, Special Forces, Marines and intelligence agencies.

Furthermore, in the near future, our low cost miniaturized point sensors (ChemPen™) will fulfill the need for a distributed network of detectors to monitor and protect buildings, installations, subways, malls and other similar infrastructure.

In the Life Safety protection area, our sensors will be able to detect flammable/explosive gases or liquids and warn operators and workers against entering certain areas.

Examples of important applications are as follows:

  • Block's products can detect a chemical cloud release from 3 miles away; therefore, our technology is used to protect critical government facilities and military installations. It could be used to protect embassies or large civilian gatherings, such as the Superbowl, 4th of July, or World Series
  • Handheld or vehicle-mounted devices are used by soldiers to identify potentially toxic substances in the field
  • Intelligence agencies use unique equipment to detect smoke stack gases associated with WMD production or similar illegal operations
  • HazMat and First Responders identify unknown substances in high traffic areas, such as subways, stadiums, malls, casinos
  • Sensors embedded in HVAC systems in critical military or government buildings monitor the quality of air to detect poisonous or toxic gases
  • Quality Control technicians use handheld devices to identify, authenticate and validate incoming material for food, beverage and drug manufacturing
  • Distributed sensors detect build-up of flammable gases on off-shore oil rigs, mines, refineries