New Scanner Would Allow Liquids Back on Planes

The international airport in Albuquerque was the scene of a sneak peek this week at a machine that could eventually allow everyone to once again bring full-size liquids including water bottles, soft drinks and shampoo through airport security.

Homeland security officials showed how the new airport security device, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, can quickly scan liquids to make sure they don't contain explosives.

The machine is about the size of a small refrigerator and uses magnetic resonance to read a liquid's molecular makeup, The Associated Press reports. It makes a determination within 15 seconds, and is so sensitive it can tell the difference between red and white wine or different types of sodas.

The machine can even read through metal containers.

"What we're doing is really looking for the real dangers, like liquid homemade explosives," says Stephen Surko, program manager of the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency. "We're just real excited at the progress we're making."

But before everyone gets excited about no longer being restricted to liquids of 3.4 ounces or less in quart-sized plastic bags, the Albuquerque demonstration was just that, a demonstration.

The technology is actually a few years from deployment at airports, officials say. For one thing, the Transportation Security Administration has not yet partnered with a manufacturer. Then, of course, will come a period of testing and certification.

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