MADISON (WKOW) – The chief executive officer of a UW-Madison spinoff start-up company says Ukraine officials are interested in the firm’s landmine detection technology.
CEO Dennis Hall of Janesville said the detection approach was pioneered by Professor Emeritus of Nuclear Engineering Gerald Kulcinski. Kulcinski has teamed up with Hall in Clandestine Materials Detection LLC.
Hall said he’s been in discussion with officials in Ukraine’s state emergency services on deploying the technology.
Hall said the technology involves a neutron generator mounted on a drone scanning terrain and shooting neutrons into the ground up to a meter deep. Hall said if the neutrons detect explosives, gamma rays are transmitted back to a receiving station. He said the process is groundbreaking in that it can differentiate explosive material from just simple metal.
Hall said both Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan and Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher support the development and deployment of the technology. Hall said a proposed $21 million may be included in defense spending authorization to speed the detection technique’s application. He said a prototype could be developed within twelve months.
Hall said the carnage of the war in Ukraine involves fifty to sixty thousand rounds a day of unexploded ordnance.
Hall said Ukraine officials are aware the technology is still in a developmental stage.
“They still have that sense, ‘We need it as soon as possible,’ ” Hall said.
Hall’s experiences as an entrepreneur include post-war visits to Kuwait and Libya. He said those experiences reinforced the need for detection of landmines and improved explosive devices (IEDs).
Hall said Kulcinski’s work creates a great opportunity.
“The humanitarian side of this is absolutely intriguing, how we could go out and potentially save hundreds of lives,” Hall said.
Hall told 27 News an initial investment of $1 million launched the firm, with a second round of financing underway with a goal of adding up to another $5 million of investment.
Hall said U.S. State Department officials have also been involved in an ongoing collaboration to realize the technology’s deployment in Ukraine.
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