ONE of the region's leading innovators has won new orders for its airport bottle scanning machines. 

Kromek, based at Netpark in Sedgefield, County Durham, has been asked to supply airports in Portugal, Cyprus, and Belgium, and is in talks to supply other airports across Europe. 

The firm, which began life 10 years ago at Durham University, is best known for pioneering a scanner that can identify liquids in bottles, including explosives, alcohol and narcotics, without them being opened, in less than 20 seconds. It recently won accreditation for an improved machine, which will cut scanning time by half to around 10 seconds.

Kromek's technology is already used by nine UK airports, including Durham Tees Valley, near Darlington.

These latest orders build on the presence of Kromek’s scanners, which have been sold to airports in Finland, Germany and Australia.

The increase in demand is being supported by a change in aviation rules, mandated in the EU, which will see all airports provide the security screening equipment needed to allow the passage of liquids through airports for connecting passengers. The intention is that travel restrictions will eventually be relaxed on the passage of all liquids, aerosols and gels through airport check-in by January 2016. 

Arnab Basu, chief executive of Kromek, said: “We are pleased to announce more progress in the security screening area of our business. We believe that the take-up of our technology by numerous airports across the EU is an excellent validation of our offering.

"The bottle scanner provides one of the simplest ways to scan liquid in sealed containers. Our product can scan and identify liquids in all types of containers without any input from the operator, opening or damaging the products, and provides a simple pass or fail answer.

“The accreditation for our new, shorter-cycle Bottle Scanner from ECAC proves the efficacy of our technology and also shows that we are continually working with our targeted customer base to improve our system and the quality of the user experience.”

Kromek employs about half of its 100 staff in County Durham and has sites in California and Pennsylvania after acquiring two US companies, as well as a sales office in Germany.