Stellarray, Inc. announced today it has received a Phase II SBIR award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Small Business Innovation Research Program to continue development of a new kind of irradiator for use with the sterile insect technique (SIT). SIT is a non-chemical, non-GMO method of controlling or eradicating insect pests that ruin crops and sicken or kill people and animals. Insect pupae are irradiated just enough to render the insects sterile but otherwise healthy when they grow to adults. When released into the field the insects mate but produce no offspring. SIT has a long history of successful use against agricultural pests such as the medfly or the Mexican fruit fly and human or animal pests such as mosquitos and the tsetse fly.
The irradiators in current SIT installations typically use radioactive Cs-137 or Co-60. These isotopes present a security hazard, especially concerning due of the more remote locations of some SIT facilities. Stellarray’s Sterile Insect Technique X-ray Irradiator (SIXI will use customized flat panel x-ray sources designed for continuous, industrial-scale operation in a conveyor belt system. This system will fit seamlessly into SIT operations and improve efficiency of the irradiation process. SIXI will emit x-rays at the energies suitable for SIT dosing, and will be modular to fit the full range of SIT operations. The same type of system can be used for several other agricultural product sterilization needs.
Mark Eaton, CEO of Stellarray, said “SIXI will help eliminate another category of dangerous isotope use. We believe SIT has been limited by the choice of available irradiator technology and hope our system will contribute to the expansion of this very useful, environmentally-conscious method of controlling insect pests.”
Stellarray makes x-ray sources and irradiators according to ISO 13485 standards in a fully equipped research and manufacturing facility in north Austin. The company is also developing digitally addressable “smart x-ray sources” for portable tomographic imaging systems. For further information please contact [email protected]