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Raytheon's formal innovation organizations are the "sparks" that ignite the engine into creative action for solving a wide variety of pressing global issues. One such organization — Integrated Defense Systems' (IDS) Mission Innovation (MI) — has been generating sparks for four years.
A Model for Innovation
The Mission Innovation team uses a Dual V Model to look at society and technology trends to anticipate where the next needs and solutions may be — extending well beyond just developing the next product and into imagining how existing world challenges potentially intersect with existing Raytheon technologies and capabilities.
Following the top-down path, the MI team examines near- and long-term global issues across a multitude of focus areas; matching those broad areas with external technologies, solutions and partners in an open innovation model. The bottom-up path continuously draws from Raytheon's portfolio of technologies, capabilities and expertise, using them to resolve world problems. The intersection of these paths is where appropriate business models, technologies, partners, and supporting functions meet to create a solution.
Raytheon IDS Mission Innovation applies the Dual V model to several focus areas, including energy and environment, global health, and civil defenses.
Oil Extraction From Shale Reserves
According to the latest studies, the United States has an oil reserve of at least three times that of Saudi Arabia locked in a 16,000-square-mile formation of oil shale deposits beneath federal land in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. If successfully harvested, it's estimated that this resource could yield anywhere from 500 billion to more than two trillion barrels of oil — enough to meet U.S. demand at current levels for more than 250 years.
Raytheon's solution combined its established expertise in radio frequency (RF) technology — more commonly used for radar and guidance systems — with critical fluids (CF) processes of small-business partner CF Technologies.
Under this extraction scenario, oil wells are drilled into the shale strata using standard oil industry equipment. RF antennae, or transmitters, are lowered into the shale. The antennae then transmit RF energy to heat the buried shale. Super-critical carbondioxide is pumped into the shale formations to extract the oil from the rock and carry the oil to an extraction well. At the surface, the carbon-dioxide fluid is separated and pumped back into injection wells, while the oil and gas are refined into gasoline, heating oil and other products. These same process could also be used to extract oil from tar sands.
This method is more economical and environmentally responsible than older oil shale extraction techniques, as it uses far less power, does not severely disrupt the landscape or leave behind residue that can enter groundwater supplies.
Raytheon sold its technology to extract oil from shale and tar sands to Schlumberger Ltd., a leading oilfield services company, in 2008.
Global Public Health Surveillance System
Disease surveillance at the national and international levels can provide critical information for early detection and containment of emerging health threats. However, disease surveillance systems have evolved without international standards or collaborative protocols for specific data types, resulting in a wide variety of unique databases containing valuable information.
Information-sharing across the various reporting systems (human, veterinary and wildlife) happens via human-intensive, time-consuming activities such as the exchange of e-mails or faxes.
The Global Public Health Surveillance (GPHS) system would connect all existing healthcare networks and add additional virological disease-monitoring capabilities to provide real-time global situational awareness. The system leverages technologies developed for the U.S. Department of Defense with the existing public health communications infrastructure to provide data exchange.
Applications automatically process the metadata in real time, and software agents continuously search the metadata for virological disease anomalies and trends using numerical, temporal and geographic criteria for alerting human operators when and where appropriate. A metadata catalog provides a substantial information resource for human exploration using visualization tools and data mining applications.
Detection of Threats Using Honeybees
For more than 100 years, it has been known that honeybees can be conditioned to detect chemical substances. In fact, the bees can detect chemicals in parts per quadrillion — orders of magnitude more sensitive than the best man-made sensors. Training insects to detect threats is not a new concept. Using associate conditioning, bees are exposed to a scent and then fed. Within a couple of hours, bees associate the scent with food. When they detect the scent, they swarm to the source to find the food.
Raytheon has built on this established research and leveraged its expertise in RF technology to improve upon previous methods. Raytheon has developed a technique of attaching RF identification tags to honeybees. When bees that have been trained to detect chemicals swarm to a location, that location becomes a point of interest for security officials.
Previous methods to track insects have relied on "line of sight" methods, which are difficult to maintain. Using RF technology, the swarm can be monitored electronically, out of sight of the handler.
In the short term, applications of the technology could include locating landmines and buried devices. Future uses could involve homeland security applications such as sensing explosives and illegal drugs.
Innovation for Global Stewardship
Raytheon is a leader in defense, homeland security, and other government markets, but the company now applies its technologies and capabilities beyond our core businesses, emphasizing our responsibility of "global stewardship" to solve issues threatening our world: global warming, renewable energy, biological diversity protection, world health, education, and civil defense.