Micro-X (ASX: MX1) has won a coveted UK Ministry of Defence contract to conduct the first phase of Research and Development for a lightweight X-ray imaging system to detect explosives hidden in electronic consumer devices.
The South Australian’s company’s six-month GB£71,900 (A$132,470.54) contract was won competitively and was awarded by the UK Government’s Defence and Security Accelerator.
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory-based accelerator is currently working with the government’s Department for Transport to find innovative solutions to improve aviation security.
Micro-X will develop a system that combines X-ray backscatter and conventional projection X-ray imaging techniques to provide a high-resolution image of electronic devices that might be carried on to passenger aircrafts.
Micro-X managing director Peter Rowland said the company was excited to win the UK contract.
“This project uniquely combines the technical successes we have had both in our lightweight medical projection imaging system and our Backscatter Imager which we demonstrated to the Australian Defence Force’s Counter-IED Task Force last year,” he said.
The contract will also require Micro-X to test the system, an activity which has already proven fruitful for company based in the South Australian innovation hub of Tonsley.
“We conducted some imaging tests before submitting our bid for this project and were very pleased at the tiny amounts of explosive material which were easily detectable using this Backscatter imaging technique,” Mr Rowland said of Micro-X’s early testing.
The $50.5 million company has already submitted indicative costs for a second phase of activity to the government accelerator, to ready the system for an airport trial.
Micro-X will continue to work with Durham University computer science researcher Professor Toby Breckon on the application of existing automated target-recognition algorithms to Micro-X’s combined backscatter/projection x-ray images.
The Durham research group is currently a world leader in applying pattern recognition to automated X-ray security screening.
Micro-X developed the world’s first carbon nanotube-powered X-ray system in the world, which it recruited a North American partner, Carestream Health, to sell worldwide as the Carestream DRX-Revolution NANO system.
The former Eastman Kodak Company’s Health Group announced 10 days ago it was currently taking orders for the product in the US and was preparing quotes for health providers in the European Union.
The 100-kilogram mobile X-ray system is tipped for a June 2018 quarter roll-out.
Carestream has also sought regulatory approval to sell the system in Canada, with approvals in other markets to follow.
Last year it was reported the system would retail for about US$150,000 (A$198,860), with Micro-X able to manufacture four portable systems a day from its innovation district facility from 2019.
Micro-X also secured an Australian Department of Defence contract to develop a small, lightweight, Mobile Backscatter Imager system for stand-off imaging of improvised explosive devices.
Another Australian Government contract has seen Micro-X join forces with the defence department to develop Rover, an ultra-lightweight, digital mobile x-ray which is optimised for use in military deployed medical facilities.
The company has tipped the product would be useful for humanitarian aid efforts and providing disaster relief support.
Micro-X securities were up 2.86% to A$0.36 by late morning.