Fluorescent Microbe Identification of Unexploded Ordnance
Small Business Information
3635 Whiskey Rd., Aiken, SC, 29803
Dr. Robert S. Burlage
AbstractThere are an estimated 100 million landmines scattered about the world, and over 20,000 innocent people are injured by these devices annually. An equally serious problem exists with other types of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Locating these explosives is difficult and dangerous. The inability to accurately characterize these sites not only fails to eliminate the risks, but also inhibits movement by friendly troops and prevents reuse by civilian populations. Laboratory experiments have revealed the possibility of detecting buried explosives using bacteria that fluoresce upon contact with explosive chemicals. Certain bacterial strains can be genetically altered to produce brightly fluorescent compounds in response to explosives. These "bioreporter" bacteria, when dispersed in suspect areas, can be used to visually locate the explosives. This Phase I effort is to verify the proof-of-principle by creating genetically engineered microbes that fluoresce in the presence of specific explosives. The laboratory conditions will mimic field conditions. Successful laboratory results can be followed up with field trials in Phase II. This proposal will also outline Phase II efforts. Successful Phase I bacteria would be dispersed at a UXO test site. As the bacteria come in contact with targeted explosive chemicals they will fluoresce, indicating the presence of explosives. Fluorescent bioreporters could be dispersed and detected by air to screen large areas for UXO. Unaffected areas could be re-entered and affected areas isolated almost immediately. Accurate mapping will make exlosives removal much safer. Governments, regulatory agencies, emergency crews, and private businesses may use the process to locate hazardous wastes, leaking pipelines, etc.
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