Block MEMS Awarded $1.7 Million DHS-CWMD Contract to Detect Chemical Threats on Shipped Parcels

Southborough, MA – August 12, 2020

Block MEMS, LLC (Block) has been awarded a contract by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) for on-the-move standoff detection of trace quantities of drugs such as fentanyl, explosives, chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and toxic chemicals on parcels shipped to and within the United States.

Under this newly awarded contract, Block MEMS will develop a fieldable prototype Trace Chemical Detector (TCD) to screen the outside surfaces of parcels for trace chemicals while they are being transported on a conveyor belt at operational speeds. The TCD will be able to detect the chemicals of interest including explosives, opioids, chemical agents, agent precursors, and pharmaceuticals at relevant concentration levels. This program will culminate with an operational system being performance tested at a government designated facility in an operational environment.

This effort will significantly leverage Block's current contract "Standoff Illuminator for Measuring Absorbance and Reflectance Infrared Light Signatures" (SILMARILS) program funded by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Under previous Phases of SILMARILS, using its eye-safe proprietary quantum cascade lasers (QCLs) Block successfully demonstrated the ability of hyperspectral imaging to detect and map out the location of trace quantities of chemicals on a wide variety of surfaces at standoff distances of up to 25 meters. Furthermore, measurements could be made at high speeds, within a few seconds.

Dr. Bachir Kharraja, Block's SVP of Technology and Engineering commented, "This award is a great recognition for the innovation made by Block in the QCL-based technology and will help us improve it even further."

Mr. Al Weggeman, Block's President, added, "This is a great opportunity to partner with the DHS CWMD group to advance the creation of much needed solutions that address threats posed by mail-borne WMD's. We are humbled and excited to have been chosen for such an important and impactful project."

About Block:

Block MEMS and its affiliate Block Engineering are leading suppliers of laser based chemical solids and gas detection systems for the Safety, Security, and Environmental markets. For more than 50 years, Block has developed and manufactured mid-infrared chemical solid and gas detection instruments using FTIR and Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) technology. Block solutions are used by the aviation and transportation industries, regulatory and customs authorities, government agencies and military, commercial facilities and venues, and other secure facilities. Applications include the screening of clothing, vehicles, baggage, cargo and packages for explosives, drugs, and chemical agents and gases.

This work has been supported by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office, under competitively awarded contract (70RWMD20C00000006). This support does not constitute an express or implied endorsement on the part of the Government.

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