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Posts tagged: Applied Sciences Laboratory

Senate commitee approves defense bill, with Spokane earmarks intact

The 2011 Defense Department appropriations bill, which we mentioned in an earlier post here, has moved through the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The vote was 18-12. The bill includes three items items inserted by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., which provides money for three Spokane tech agencies or firms.

Those items are covered in the earlier post. The next step is consideration of the bill by the full Senate. It’s not clear when that will occur.


Murray pushing defense dollars for Spokane area tech projects

Patty Murray, D-Wash., has added language to the 2011 defense appropriation bill that would benefit area businesses and organizations. Here are the key Eastern Washington items added to the bill, which is now being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  1. Washington State University’s Applied Science Laboratory: $1 million to be used to establish a fuel and energy lab at the ASL in Spokane. One goal is to work with Spokane’s ReliOn in developing alternative energy sources for the Navy.
  2. WSU’s Positron Capture and Storage Project: $3 million for reseach into positron storage,  a high-density, concentrated non-nuclear energy source.
  3. Spokane tech company Next IT: $1.5 million to design and develop virtual agent software to help servicemembers, vets and families obtain information about care and treatment.



Inside the Applied Sciences Laboratory


Hergen Eilers, the first senior research scientist at WSU’s Applied Sciences Laboratory, in Spokane, gave a 40-minute recap of three key projects he’s heading, all involving advanced work in physics and optics.

His remarks came during a recent yearly meeting explaining the ASL’s progress, now starting its sixth year.

One project is to develop a better way of using lasers to locate and then eliminate the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Those buried bombs account for half of all U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, Eilers said at the meeting.

His project is funded by the U.S. Defense Department. It involves using lasers to identify the trickle of tiny electrons emitted by the explosives inside IEDs. The laser can be configured to find the electrons as they vaporize, he said.

Another laser sensor is used to identify the exact location of the explosive.

Eigen has two other defense department projects: one involves testing ways to fully incinerate biological threats; the other is developing a more accurate way to identify nuclear material at transportation checkpoints.

Current detectors still have difficulty with false positives. Bananas and cat litter are among the substances that produce false positives.

Eilier’s sensors also need to find nuclear substances shielded by other materials.

A recap of this week’s story on the ASL’s recent growth will be found, starting later tonight, at


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John Stucke John Stucke is a deputy city editor who helps build local news coverage and writes about health care, bankruptcy and rural affairs.

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Scott Maben Scott Maben is a Deputy City Editor who covers North Idaho news and higher education.

Addy Hatch is the city editor, and formerly was business editor.

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