Chemical Detection System Sniffs Out Toxic Threats

Isonics' new system for detecting chemical bombs and other toxic substances is seen by analysts as more effective against supply chain attacks than other technologies still in development.

Isonics Corp. has entered the North American market with EnviroSecure, a system specifically designed to thwart supply chain attacks and other terrorist threats by detecting toxic substances such as chemical bombs in office buildings, airports and other public places.

Now available for immediate sale and installation, EnviroSecure is regarded by some analysts as much more accurate than nearly all of about 40 to 50 competing products, most of which are still under laboratory development.

In contrast, EnviroSecure is based on a product already in place inside the German parliament building since 1999, said Isonics CEO and Chairman James Alexander.

Used in the parliament building to "sniff" the air for unusual substances, the earlier technology was originally created by Isonics minority-owned German subsidiary, IUT-Berlin, in conjunction with another German-based company. But the product Isonic is announcing this week is a separate product, said Alexander.

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"Most of the [competing] products now under development simply dont work very well yet. Those that do are either too bulky or too costly," said Jeff Bishop, an analyst at Beacon Equity Research.

"But the initial test results for Isonics technology are quite promising. In fact, it could become one of a very few products that is successful in this space."

According to Isonics Alexander, the vast majority of chemical detection systems that have actually come to market so far are geared not to supply chain security, but to achieving quality control in semiconductor manufacturing plants.

These other approaches use sensors built directly into the silicon chip, he said.

In contrast, EnviroSecure is targeted at use in much bigger places, including mass transport facilities.

"And generally speaking, these are places where there arent supposed to be any [hazardous] chemicals at all," Alexander said.

The CEO likened EnviroSecure to an electronic security system. But instead of sensing movement and transmitting alarms, he said, Isonics product samples the air at points throughout a large facility.

The samples are then conveyed through plastic tubes for centralized testing via a technology known as ion mobility spectroscopy.

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