SRNL turns microwaves into law enforcement tool

  • Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2014 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Sunday, August 31, 2014 12:37 a.m.
Submitted photo
The tandem microwave setup includes two connected commercial-grade microwaves and a laptop control system.
Submitted photo The tandem microwave setup includes two connected commercial-grade microwaves and a laptop control system.

The Savannah River National Lab, or SRNL, is looking to assist law enforcement through the modification of a tandem microwave, an invention fabricated from two commercial microwave ovens.

According to a press release, the lab's work on the project started by joining forces with Hardon Technologies, a microwave technology and systems development and manufacturing company.

The two groups developed the technology, which they say can be used for the destruction of materials ranging from harmful viruses to methamphetamine.

Other uses include disinfecting wastes, sterilizing materials, modifying liquid waste to solid and other various areas of forensics work.

Unlike typical microwave ovens, officials wrote, the technology allows for the neutralization and evaluation of material on metals, such as handcuffs.

Robin Brigmon, SRNL senior fellow engineer, explained that the first microwave is the primary chamber and is used for controlled combustion of materials. The second microwave is used to further treat gases released from the primary chamber.

In addition, a laptop computer with software developed at the lab is used for precise temperature control and analysis.

“We have also partnered with Hadron on proposals for potential new applications for this device,” said Brigmon. “SRNL can leverage Hadron's resources and personnel for future research and development projects, and Hadron can benefit from the technology created here at the national lab.”

Brigmon added the microwave can be modified for commercial purposes. For example, Brigmon said, one customer has requested a larger forensic microwave in order to treat five-gallon size waste material.

“Hadron can do this more rapidly and efficiently in collaboration with SRNL while maintaining the high standards needed by the customer,” he said.

The Savannah River National Laboratory is a multi-program applied research and development laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. For more information, visit srnl.doe.gov.

Derrek Asberry is the SRS beat reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the paper since June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga. and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.

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