Alion receives $2.8 million contract from DTRA

Alion Science and Technology, a technology solutions firm, announced on Thursday that it received a $2.8 million contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop a detection system to identify nuclear-fueled explosives.

The DoD and other agencies have used Helium-3 (He-3) as a method to detect neutrons from special nuclear material (SNM). He-3 is an extremely rare non-naturally occurring substance, and the supply of the substance is quickly drying up. Alion will develop enhancements to a replacement technology.

Alion will help the DTRA by developing methods to use an advanced detection system that employs boron-coated straws instead of He-3. Boron is much more abundant than He-3.

Alion will develop methods to make the boron-coated straw detector directional, allowing the device to pinpoint the location of the source of neutrons and react to threats more effectively. Engineers with Alion will also research ways to increase the efficiency of the detector and reduce overall production costs.

"By researching the means to make the boron-coated straw detector more precise and more reasonable to produce, Alion can help DTRA employ improved technologies to mitigate threats effectively and keep warfighters and citizens safe," Terri Spoonhour, the senior vice president of Alion, said. "But, beyond providing a drop-in replacement for He-3 detector components, this engineering effort opens up a number of possibilities for new or enhanced portable systems that can be carried into questionable areas or permanently installed to protect ports and depots."

The Houston-based Proportional Technologies, Inc., will be Alion's teaming partner on the project. The contract's period of performance runs until March 1, 2017.