MADISON (WKOW) – The CEO of a University of Wisconsin-Madison spin-off startup says Ukrainian officials are interested in the company’s landmine detection technology.
Dennis Hall, chief executive of Janesville, said the detection method was pioneered by nuclear engineering professor emeritus Gerald Kursinski. Kulcinski works with Hall in Clandestine Materials Detection LLC.
Hall said he had been in discussions with officials from Ukraine’s state emergency services about deploying the technology.
The technique involves a neutron generator mounted on a drone scanning the terrain and shooting neutrons a meter deep into the ground, Hall said. If the neutrons detect the explosive, the gamma rays are beamed back to the receiving station, Hall said. He says the process is groundbreaking because it can distinguish explosive materials from simple metals.
Hall said Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan and Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher both supported the development and deployment of the technology. Hall said the proposed $21 million would likely be included in the defense spending authorization to expedite deployment of the detection technology. He said a prototype could be developed within 12 months.
Hall said the carnage of the war in Ukraine involved 50,000 to 60,000 rounds of unexploded ordnance a day.
Hall said Ukrainian officials knew the technology was still in development.
“They still have that feeling of, ‘We need to get this as soon as possible,'” Hall said.
Hall’s experience as an entrepreneur included postwar visits to Kuwait and Libya. These experiences, he said, have reinforced the need to detect landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Hall said Kulcinski’s work created a great opportunity.
“The humanitarian aspect of this is absolutely fascinating, how we can go out and potentially save hundreds of lives,” Hall said.
Hall told 27 News that the company is investing an initial $1 million and is working on a second round of funding with the goal of investing another $5 million.
Hall said U.S. State Department officials are also involved in the ongoing collaboration to enable the deployment of the technology in Ukraine.