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DHS Opens New Transportation Security Explosives Detection Lab

A TSL researcher obtains dielectric measurements of explosives. Credit: DHS

This week marked the official opening of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s (DHS S&T) Test & Evaluation Laboratory building at the Transportation Security Laboratory (TSL).

Located at the William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., the new building expands TSL’s reinforced laboratory space for conducting tests of explosives detection systems.

One of TSL’s primary responsibilities is to provide independent test and evaluation of commercial explosives detection equipment and certify them for use in checked luggage and checkpoint environments. The facility consists of specialized explosive storage and handling areas and a multi-laboratory infrastructure designed to test and evaluate technology for explosives and contraband detection and blast mitigation.

Established in 1992 as part of the federal response to the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bombing of 1988, TSL is internationally recognized for its unique ability to advance detection technology from conception to deployment, through applied research, test and evaluation, assessment, certification and qualification testing.

TSL’s core laboratory capabilities include:

“Back then we constructed a laboratory to develop and test equipment to detect bombs hidden in checked luggage. Today we are expanding those capabilities to address threats that are constantly increasing in complexity and variety,” said TSL Director Christopher Smith.

With this new building, the staff of scientists and engineers at TSL are able to conduct more performance tests with its unique variety of commercial, military and non-traditional explosives.

TSL has more than 30 cooperative research and development agreements with industry and academia. Partners work with TSL to develop capabilities and reduce the time needed to deliver the capabilities to the front line. TSL’s Technology Optimization Partnerships (TOPs) process is a public–private enterprise designed to quickly mature and deploy detection technologies. TOPs help industry understand the detection problems and offer the expertise to assist with technical solutions.

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