Manufacturers have received official EU approval to use the new generation X-ray machines, which can tell the difference between water and liquid explosives, at all European airports.
The device is able to read the barcode on a bottle of liquid by looking at a vast database of products to ensure the contents haven’t been tampered with.
The invention could put an end to confusion surrounding liquid bans, which add to delays for millions of British holidaymakers every year, paving the way for the day when passengers can carry their own drinks on board planes once again.
The stringent security measures have led to scenes of anger and frustration at airport security desks with passengers being forced to throw away bottles of perfume, drinks containers and even bottles of sun cream before boarding a flight.
The hi-tech scanners could be in place by April 2011, when regulations will be eased to allow transit passengers to carry liquids onboard, as long as have adequate scanners.
Created by Kromek, a spin-off company from Durham University, Arnab Basu, the company’s chief executive, said: ‘The best analogy is that compared to conventional X-ray scanners, this is the difference between seeing an object in black and white and seeing it in colour.’
‘You don’t have to open a bottle or sniff it to take a sample, you just put a bottle in the scanner and it will show whether it is water or a chemical explosive.’
‘If someone has replaced the contents of a bottle of single malt whisky with tea, the scanner will know that it is not whisky,’ Mr Basu said.
The ban on liquids in hand luggage was introduced in August 2006 following the arrest and imprisonment of three Britons after police uncovered a plot to smuggle explosives on to planes using drinks containers.
The three were jailed for life last year for their plan to destroy at least seven planes, carrying over 200 passengers, using chemicals hidden in soft drink bottles.
The invention of these scanners could see a lot more happy faces at the airport next year and look to enhance security measures worldwide in the future.