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High Energy Upgrade to a Quantitative X-Ray System for Arena Tests Meeting Unique AF Needs

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA8649-22-P-0898
Agency Tracking Number: F2D-4251
Amount: $1,250,000.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: AF221-DCSO1
Solicitation Number: X22.1
Solicitation Year: 2022
Award Year: 2022
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2022-05-02
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2024-02-06
Small Business Information
4 Constitution Road
Lexington, MA 02421-1111
United States
DUNS: 078789940
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Adam Lanik
 (619) 247-1524
Business Contact
 Jerome Fanucci
Phone: (781) 223-3045
Research Institution

DOD evaluates fragmentation behavior of explosive devices with an arena test. The device is partially surrounded by hundreds to hundreds-of-thousands of 4x8-foot, half-inch thick boards that serve as capture media. The device is detonated, and fragments embed in the boards. A process called picking then begins. Technicians hand-search each board. When a fragment is found, it is “picked”, i.e., pulled from the capture media, cleaned, weighed, its location in the 2D plane of the board and 3D space of the arena identified, and its material type noted. It can take 30 hours and more than $3,000 to pick a single bundle of 48 layers. A large test can have thousands of bundles and cost $500,000. ZKxKZ and Leidos have leveraged our own and DOD funds to develop a device that greatly reduces time and expense of picking an arena test. Our latest version worked extremely well in a recent man-versus-machine comparison that pitted experienced DOD pickers against our automated hardware/software. Results demonstrated superiority of the quantitative x-ray approach. By every measure, our x-ray system out-performed hand-picking significantly. Based on these tests, we confidently predict our current system yields a 5-10X+picking speed increase (translating to nearly the same picking cost reduction), and finds 50% more fragments. Tungsten is one of the best x-ray attenuating elements. Our current x-ray system works well characterizing steel, aluminum and titanium fragments. However, the relatively low power of the x-ray source of our current device limits it when testing warheads that generate tungsten fragments thicker than 1/8”. The AF is interested in adapting our system to increase its ability to deal with larger tungsten fragments. ZKxKZ proposes to use AF funds from this D2P2 SBIR to upgrade our current system, increasing size of the x-ray source, with the goal of penetrating tungsten ½” or more in thickness. Work will include upgrades to hardware, including purchase of a higher power x-ray source and compatible x-ray detector, changes to the baseline conveyor, and modifications to system software. Our proposal is ODC-cost driven because so much hardware will be purchased.  The AF upgrade will be generally more capable than the current baseline, and specifically will be better-able to deal with thicker tungsten fragments. By the end of D2P2 work, we will produce and test a fully-functional upgrade system, able to characterize thicker tungsten fragments. While this system will eventually transfer to the AF MOU-signer’s facility, funding from D2P2 most likely will fall short of a system that can be operated by a third party (rather than the proposal team’s engineering staff). Additional funds needed to finalize a user-friendly, transferable upgrade will come from follow-on SBIRs (like pending AFWerx PII proposal planned for submission), or PIII funds from our AF MOU customer.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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