Round 3: Grants Announced May 2008
I. Technical Topic Area: Blast Mitigation
Terrorists have a wide range of weapons to use against us, but the weapon of choice so far appears to be explosives. They are low in cost, readily available, easy to assemble and cause significant damage. It is not surprising that the NIHS research portfolio would include significant work toward mitigating the effects of explosives.
Reducing the Explosive Potential of Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer
Dr. Darrell Taulbee, University of Kentucky; $835,765; 24 Months
The destructive power of an ammonium nitrate and fuel oil explosive mixture has been graphically demonstrated in a number of malicious attacks, most notably the one on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Both components of this deadly mixture are readily available. Dr. Darrell Taulbee at the University of Kentucky will lead a project to continue research and development on a process to reduce the blast potential of ammonium nitrate. In a previous NIHS project, Dr. Taulbee successfully demonstrated that the explosive potential of ammonium nitrate fertilizer can be diminished by coating it with coal combustion by-products. This follow-on project will focus on issues that must be addressed before the treated ammonium nitrate can be introduced for commercial agricultural use. Collaborators on this project are Eastern Kentucky University and the New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology. Private sector collaborators are Applied Chemical Technologies (Florence, AL), El Dorado Chemical Co. (Oklahoma City, OK), Terra Industries (Madison, MS) and The International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development (Muscle Shoals, AL). The value of the contract is $835,765.
Blast Protection For Power Transformers
Dr. Braden Lusk, UK; $824,969; 36 Months
The electric power grid of the United States is distributed over a huge geographic area, and is therefore difficult to protect. Some of the most vulnerable components in the grid are the transformers that are necessary to condition the power for use by consumers. Replacement of damaged transformers is an expensive and time consuming process. Dr. Braden Lusk at the University of Kentucky will lead a project designed to contribute to the resiliency of the electric power grid by developing a protective device for electric power transformers. This project will determine which materials can provide transformers the greatest protection against the effects of a blast. The project will also determine the most effective design and application methods for the materials. Potential customers for the product of this research are electric utility companies and transformer manufacturers. The value of this subcontract is $824,969.
Response of Curtain Wall Architectural Envelopes to Negative Phase Blast Effects
Dr. Braden Lusk, University of Kentucky; $874,750; 36 Months
The University of Kentucky and Dr. Braden Lusk will lead a project to research methods to mitigate blast damages to buildings. The project will focus on determining exterior architectural designs of buildings that will minimize the number of glass fragment projectiles that are produced by exposure of windows to blast effects. Flying glass is one of the biggest threats to human safety during a blast. The outcome of the project can lead to tools that are beneficial in increasing the resiliency of facilities housing critical infrastructure. The ultimate result of the project can be more effective mitigation of explosive damage to targeted structures and, in congested areas, collateral damage to surrounding structures. UK will collaborate with the University of Missouri-Columbia on this project. Private industry collaborators are Winco Window Company and SMI Systems. The value of the subcontract is $874,750.
Carbon Foam-Based Protection Systems
Dr. Rodney Andrews, University of Kentucky; $836,964; 24 Months
Versatile, multifunctional, lightweight, inexpensive materials that provide blast protection, electromagnetic shielding, radiological protection, and easy removal of chemical agents are needed to protect the US infrastructure. The University of Kentucky is receiving a subcontract in the amount of $836,964 to develop brand new carbon foam materials that can protect structures and vehicles against fire and blasts. The material will have applications for existing as well as new buildings. Dr. Rodney Andrews is the principal investigator. The private industry collaborator for the project is Koppers, Inc.
II. Technical Topic Area: Threat Detection
In dealing with terrorism, there is great value in early threat detection and quick response to the threat. In many cases, loss of life and disruption of critical infrastructures can be prevented or reduced. NIHS has several projects directed at this problem.
A Compact Neutron Interrogation System for Underwater Threat Detection and Identification
Dr. Ivan Novikov, Western KY University; $796,736; 24 Months
The US homeland contains many critical infrastructure facilities that are close to waterways. DHS has recognized that various threats can attack key facilities using an underwater approach for concealment. Western Kentucky University is receiving a $796,736 subcontract for a project to develop a system to quickly detect threats that have been deployed underwater and confirm whether the threat is explosive, chemical or radioactive in nature. The system will permit the identification of the threat without physically examining the threat object. The result of this project could lead to increased protection for key civil, industrial and infrastructure assets such as ports, harbors, dams, locks, water intakes and
bridges. Dr. Ivan Novikov is the principal investigator. Indiana University-Kokomo is collaborating with WKU on the project.
Optical Intrusion Alarm for Defense of Critical Infrastructure Under Conditions of Fog, Smoke or Fire
Dr. Robert W. Cohn, University of Louisville; $1,610,350; 36 Months
Early detection of intruders allows quicker response and prevention or mitigation of disruptions. Many detections systems rely on visual observations. The capability of these systems is degraded when visibility is reduced. A subcontract for about $1.6 million is being awarded to the University of Louisville to develop a low-cost optical sensor system that can detect intrusions into a protected area when atmospheric conditions severely restrict visibility. The system will be capable of maintaining surveillance in the presence of heavy fog, rain smoke and flames, and underwater through turbulence and turbidity. Collaborators with the University of Louisville for this project are the University of Kentucky, Michigan Aerospace Corporation (Ann Arbor, MI) and 3D Consultants (DuPage, IL).
III. Technical Topic Area: Response & Recovery
Most experts agree that it is not possible to prevent all conceivable attacks on the US infrastructure. We must be ready to respond and recover to attacks if they do occur. Consequently, the NIHS research portfolio includes a number of projects to increase the resiliency of communities in responding to disruptive events.
A Portable Community Infrastructure Resiliency System
Dr. Phillip Womble, Western KY University; $971,103; 12 Months
Western Kentucky University is receiving a $971,103 subcontract to address the need for a lightweight, rapidly-deployable replacement for electric power transformers that may have been damaged or destroyed in natural disasters or as a result of terrorist activities. The projected outcome of the project will be a lightweight, solid state power converter that can be installed in transformer yards to quickly restore the integrity of the electric power distribution system. The power converter will replace traditional iron-core transformers and will be easily transported by helicopter. Dr. Phillip Womble is the principal investigator. Murray State University is collaborating on the project. The private sector collaborator is the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation (Fairmont, WV).
Incident Management Decision Suppport System
Dr. James Gantt, Murray State University; $1,144,838; 24 Months
First Responders are usually faced with conflicting data and incomplete information when they arrive at the scene of an incident. The military refers to this as the “fog of war”. Efficiency of first responders and subsequent recovery operations can be greatly improved with technology that provides better awareness of the situation. Dr. James Gantt at Murray State University will lead a project to develop a system that can improve the capacity of incident managers to monitor and respond to emergency situations. The system will permit the near-real-time fusion of data and information about emergency events to provide improved situation awareness for incident managers. The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is collaborating with Murray State on this project. The private industry collaborator is ElanTech, Inc. (Greenbelt, MD).
Rapidly Deployable System for the Structural Stabilization of Shock Damaged Structures
Dr. Thomas Robl, University of Kentucky; $991,408; 24 Months
First responders are often required to enter structures that have been damaged by natural or malicious events, usually to find people who may be trapped inside. These damaged structures are usually unstable and put the lives of the first responders at risk. The University of Kentucky will receive a subcontract that focuses on stabilizing structures damaged by blasts or natural events, such as earthquakes. Dr. Thomas Robl will lead this project to develop a system to stabilize these damaged structures. The project will produce a shotcrete that is capable of hardening rapidly, has a high ultimate strength and can bond to a variety of surfaces. The project, funded at $991, 408, will also develop a simple, compact delivery system for the shotcrete. Collaborating with UK are the University of Dundee and the University of Aberdeen. The private sector collaborator is Minova USA, Inc. (Georgetown, KY).
IV. Technical Topic Area: Prevention
Ultimately, the best response to terrorism or natural disasters is to prevent or limit the damage that is inflicted. The NIHS research portfolio is addressing the needs of several infrastructure segments by developing technology that can help prevent disasters.
Highway Bridge Standoff Measurement System
Dr. John Kielkopf, University of Louisville; $1,302,272; 36 Months
The recent bridge collapse on I-35 in Minnesota is indicative of a broader problem of aging infrastructure in the US. Better inspection techniques that are cheaper, quicker, and more accurate are needed to help solve the problems. The University of Louisville is receiving $1,302,272 for a project to develop a system that will advance the precision and accuracy of bridge inspections. The product of this project will be a portable, remote sensing system which measures structural movement that can be engaged by inspectors from a vantage point other than the bridge itself. The technology will provide bridge inspectors with a device that will make bridge inspections easier and more cost effective. The project can ultimately contribute to maintaining the safety of a vital component of the nation’s transportation infrastructure. Murray State University is a collaborating partner with U of L on this project. Private industry collaborators are American Structurepoint, Inc., and Smart Sensing Technologies LLC.
North American Transportation Security Center
Dr. Joe Crabtree, University of Kentucky; $3,500,000; 36 Months
The shipment of hazardous materials provides a target for terrorists. In Kentucky, 70,000 trucks pass through the State each day, with some of them carrying hazmat. The ability to track hazmat shipments on a real time basis is essential for providing an early warning of an impending terrorist attack. The University of Kentucky is receiving $3.5 million to design and organize a functional prototype of a hazmat truck tracking center. The project will complement a Congressional directive to the Transportation Security Administration to develop a program that tracks motor carrier shipments of security-sensitive materials. Dr. Joe Crabtree is the principal investigator. Collaborating with UK on the project are Morehead State University, Coldstream Digital (Lexington, KY) and General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.
Waterborne Threat Interdiction Utilizing Underwater Impulse Generation
Dr. Phil Womble, Western Kentucky University; $348,067
Detecting the presence of, and mitigating, underwater threats requires stand-off detection and interdiction technologies. Western Kentucky University will receive a $350,000 subcontract to develop and test a new approach to a sound wave generation for use in deterring hostile underwater intruders and disrupting threats from underwater equipment. The project focuses on developing a system that transmits through water an acoustic wave with enough energy to deter or disable hostile divers and their equipment. Dr. Phil Womble is the principal investigator. Collaborating with him is the West Virginia High Technology Corporation Foundation (Fairmont, WV).
Pandemic Preparedness Project
Dr. Paul McKinney, University of Louisville; 4,500,000
This is a leading effort to help communities prepare and respond to pandemics. Emphasis are (1) detection, (2) preparedness and (3) protection, response and recovery as primary elements of its research agenda. When viewed as a whole, the project will provide an important advance on the protection of the human infrastructure of essential programs that will insure the continuity of critical activities within communities of various sizes.
V. Technical Topic Area: Food Safety
The Food and Agriculture sector of the US critical infrastructure includes agricultural production and food systems from farm to table. The United States Department of Homeland Security has targeted bulk food contamination as a focus for attention because it poses a high consequence health threat to our society. Kentucky is a leading agricultural state, so it is not surprising that the NIHS research portfolio includes projects that address this issue.
Technology Optimization of a Milk Transport Security System
Dr. Fred Payne, University of Kentucky; $1,175,481; 18 Months
The current manual methods used for transporting milk from farm to processor are vulnerable to disruption, require intensive paperwork, and are prone to errors. The bulk milk transportation sector needs a security enhancement that will both reduce recording errors and enable normal transport activities to occur while providing security against unauthorized access. The University of Kentucky is receiving a contract for $1,175,481 to further develop a milk transport security and data system. A prototype system was created in a previous NIHS project. The current project will refine the hardware and electronics of the security system, support the development of needed software and the development of a data server system. The completion of this project will provide the dairy industry with a commercially robust system that will secure milk during transport, automate the collection of milk data and provide a trace back system to facilitate recalls. Dr. Fred Payne, UK, will be assisted by a team that includes Western Kentucky University and the following private industry partners:
- A. Wilson Trucking (milk hauling company)
- Slayback Milk Transport (milk hauling company)
- Bluegrass Tank and Equipment (tank manufacturer/dist.)
- Starr Stainless (tank manufacturer/dist.)
- Winchester Farms Dairy-Kroger (dairy processor)
- Southern Belle Dairy (dairy processor & marketing agency)
- Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) Mideast (marketing agency/coop)
- Walker Stainless (tank manufacturer)
Tracking and Health Monitoring of Beef Cattle
Dr. Eric Vanzant, University of Kentucky; $906,841; 12 months
The US livestock industry is worth an estimated $100Billion, and economic disruption of this industry would create ripple effects throughout related industries causing severe economic impact. For example, outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease have resulted in widespread panic and losses of hundreds of millions of dollars. Dr, Eric Vanzant, University of Kentucky, is receiving a $900,000 contract to continue development of a coordinated surveillance, monitoring, and response system for tracking and early detection of disease outbreaks. The systems acquire data from individual animals, and then use a sophisticated computer model to provide early warning of disease outbreaks. This effort is geared toward final development and commercialization of an ear tag-based health monitoring system.
VI. Technical Topic Area: Biometric Identification
Identification of individuals is a key element of most of the prevention and detection approaches being employed by DHS. The need exists to provide positive identification of individuals for everything from surveillance to facility access. Biometric identification is seen as an increasingly important answer to this problem.
3D Finger & Palm Print Scanner
Dr. Larry Hassebrook, University of Kentucky; $988, 511.
Fingerprints and palm-prints are now and, for the foreseeable future, will be the most relied upon biometric technology for verifying a person’s identity. There is a need to provide for faster, more accurate methods of identifying finger and palm prints for application at border crossings, airports, and public events. Dr. Larry Hassebrook, UK, is developing a new scanner using sophisticated optical technology that will allow capture of 3-dimensional finger and palm prints of both hands within 15 seconds and with no human intervention. He will receive a contract for $988,511 to provide optimization of the device design and to initiate commercialization activities. He is assisted in this effort by a private company, Flashscan 3-D.