SNIFFER - Development of Innovative Radiation Detectors to Search for Nuclear Materials Dispersed in International Commercial Transports

    SNIFFER is a FSC FAS 2021 effort of Regione Toscana (03/01/2022 – 02/29/2024).

    SNIFFER will adopt innovative technologies used to date only in the most advanced research in nuclear and subnuclear physics and modern artificial intelligence tools to create a new radiation sensor capable of identifying in real time the presence of dispersed or hidden nuclear material in transport. international trade carried out by means of containers.
    Statistics from surveillance agencies show that numerous incidents of illegal transport of industrial materials contaminated with radioactive waste occur around the world every year. This is mainly due to the fact that in many countries, including emerging countries, the nuclear industry is now widespread but sometimes does not meet adequate safety standards. Consequently, it may happen that the competent authorities lose track of even non-negligible quantities of nuclear material that is dispersed in landfills and enters the metal recovery cycle. These cases of negligence result in global safety concerns. In fact, even in Italy, transport of large quantities of steel or semi-finished metal contaminated by Cobalt-60 from Chinese steel plants has been identified. In one case, it was found that a source used to measure the thickness of the refractories lining the blast furnaces had been negligently cast into the metal, in other cases, the causes remained unknown. The contamination was discovered only in the companies that were working the steel, with great alarm among the staff and serious damage to the production chain that was blocked for a long time for decontamination. To safeguard the health of workers, limit the economic damage deriving from the blocking of company activities and from the costs of reclamation, it is necessary to intercept these dangerous transports as soon as possible.
    SNIFFER will develop a new generation portal to identify the presence of radioactive material inside the containers by making quick but reliable scans during handling. We will create an inexpensive, robust and reliable device that can be used easily by staff, in full compliance with the performance required of these devices, which must have extreme sensitivity for radioactive material, even shielded, and remain within a predetermined threshold in terms of false alarms. so as not to slow down the handling activities without reason.


    INFN – Pisa (Coordinator): Simone Donati (

    University of Pisa: Valerio Giusti (

    ELSE Nuclear S.r.l.: Luca Fabiano Ferrante Vero (