ETD Likely To Change The Security Screening Industry Soon: Kapil Bardeja, Vehant Technologies

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Kapil Bardeja, CEO and Co-Founder- Vehant Technologies, talks about how explosive trace detection (ETD) will help us in deteriorating terrorist activities across our country.

The global industry of explosives trace detectors (ETDs) is around Rs 10,000 crore, with India having just 2-3 per cent of the global market share. The rise in terrorist activities across our country and the increasing need for adopting explosive trace detectors in security sectors have bolstered the explosives detectors market growth. In an interview with BW Businessworld, Kapil Bardeja, CEO  and Co-Founder- Vehant Technologies, talks about how explosive trace detection (ETD) will help us in deteriorating terrorist activities across our country.

How does the explosive trace detection system work?
An explosive trace detection (ETD) system uses a unique MEMS-based physics approach. The volatile molecules are pre- concentrated on a sorbent material, swab, or swipe. The swipe is inserted into the device. Once the released molecules are absorbed from the swipe, the MEMS-based sensor detects the presence of explosives using a Physics-based approach. The signal from the sensor is processed for reporting and confirming traces of explosives. It also classifies the explosives into various categories. 

What are the recent developments in the field of explosive trace detection?
ETDs are being developed with technology enhancements and different detection methods since they play an essential role in ensuring security. There are various analytical techniques in operation for detecting explosives. The most recent explosives detection methods include mass spectrometry, TeraHertz spectroscopy, Infrared spectroscopy, laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy. The latest advances can be seen in ion mobility spectrometry and colourimetric detection methods. Sensor technology has shown significant results in detecting traces of explosives since they are highly sensitive, autonomous, inexpensive and small in size. Various sensors like biological, electrochemical, optical, mass and thermal sensors are available in the market that is used in building ETDs. 

What is the future outlook of the explosive trace detection market?
ETDs are a crucial modality in homeland security, military and public safety. Uses of ETD include air, sea and land transportation security, force protection, law enforcement, CIP and the private sector security. Terror groups' attacks across Europe, the Middle East and Africa drove governments to overhaul their counter-terror explosives screening infrastructure and funding. Increasing government security screening rules and regulations are expected to drive the market's growth. The rising procurement of ETD systems from law enforcement and homeland agencies has propelled the market. However, declining defence expenditure from a few countries has hampered the market's growth. Furthermore, lower ETD procurement contracts and reduced defence budget due to the Covid-19 pandemic also affected the market growth.

What's the current size of the Explosive Trace Detectors industry (Global & India)?
The current size of the security screening market globally is approximately 7 billion USD, per the survey in 2020. The ETD market globally is measured at 1.1 billion USD in 2020 and is expected to reach 1.6 billion USD by 2026. India's market is typically 3-4 % of the global market. 

The market has been untapped due to the high cost of the ETDs available to date, the difficulty in using them, and their complex technologies. However, NanoSniffer has reshaped the explosive detection industry and opened new horizons.

Vehant has recently launched Nanosniffer. Please tell us about the product and its functioning. Where has it been deployed till now? 
NanoSniffer is an ETD system launched by us in technology collaboration with NanoSniff Technologies, IIT-Bombay. It has been successfully deployed at various data centres, cargo complexes, and Delhi Airport. 

The Nanosniffer works on the principle of MEMS microsensors, high sensitivity and high-speed electronic instrumentation and intelligent mathematical algorithms. This ETD system is an effective platform for detecting explosives in traces. It uses a new approach to distinguish explosives from non-explosives. The operator inserts a swipe of collected traces anticipated for explosives into the Nanosniffer's explosive trace detector. The trace particles are internally transferred to the micro-sensor. Signals from the micro-sensor are analysed to confirm the nature of the traces. This highly sensitive and selective explosives trace detector is portable and can practically detect a wide range of military, commercial and homemade explosives.

How is the Nanosniffer going to revolutionise the Security Screening industry in India? 
Nanosniffer is the world's first micro-sensor technology-based explosives trace detector (ETD). It uses high sensitivity & high-speed electronic instrumentation that quickly detects conventional and non-conventional explosives. It leverages complex MEMS sensors but is a very scalable and low-cost process and device. With its low operational cost and cutting-edge technology, it promises to change the security screening industry in the country through its high selectivity, sensitivity, reversibility and real-time operation. 

The device is also undergoing a security testing process for the UK, and we hope soon Nanosniffer will be approved in the UK and Europe international markets, followed by the Americas.

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