We developed a new sensor to detect dangerous undetonated explosives on the sea floor.

The challenge

Undetonated explosives are dangerous

According to the US Government's Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), there are more than 10 million acres of coastal waters contaminated by undetonated explosives.

Typically these small explosives rust and corrode at sea, which makes them even more dangerous.

However, it's difficult to sample the marine environment and detect things like explosives due to electrical currents produced by waves which affect underwater magnetic fields.

Our response

Sensor to detect small explosives

HMAS Sheean departing Fleet Base West.  ©Commonwealth of Australia

As part of SERDP, we developed a high temperature superconducting gradiometer sensor to detect undetonated explosives at the sea floor.

Similar to technology used in minerals exploration, the sensor has critical advantages for detecting bombs because it can pick up small targets.

The results

Undergoing trials at sea

The sensor has been proved in a stationary laboratory environment and trials have been conducted to prove it in motion, in preparation for anticipated underwater trials.

The technology has the potential to be used to help clear landmines.

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