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Fool's Gold - using ultrasound technology to combat counterfeiting

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August 28, 2011

GoldMoney uses GE's ultrasound scanning technology to ensure the integrity of its gold hol...

GoldMoney uses GE's ultrasound scanning technology to ensure the integrity of its gold holdings

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Evidently all that glitters is not entirely gold. Just ask the many disappointed bankers and investors who have discovered some of their large gold bullion bars were ersatz - real gold on the outside, far less valuable tungsten on the inside. Enter General Electric with its Phasor series of portable ultrasonic detectors. Using non-invasive technology identical to that deployed in peering at developing fetuses, GE's devices allow a quick and thorough examination of gold bars for flaws, bubbles and even different materials.

Downplayed by the media to avert potential worldwide panic, the story has understandably received little mainstream press, but, as the value of standard 400 oz. bars nears US$700,000, it's easy to understand why gold counterfeiting is on the rise.

Tungsten, similar in weight and specific gravity to gold, makes an ideal choice for salting bogus bars. China Tungsten Online, for example, unabashedly offers gold-plated tungsten products for sale with the proviso that they not be used for "illegal purpose."

Where the metal differs from gold is in its hardness. Until recently, short of drilling into the bar, there was no convenient, reliable way to separate the genuine from the fake - that's where GE's portable ultrasonic detectors come in.

GE Phasor XS ultrasonic flaw detector

Conventional ultrasonic devices generally yield images that are often difficult to decipher, especially for the layperson. GE's Phasor XS, however, with its computer-controlled, phased array probe, yields simple images that even minimally-trained operators find easy to interpret. This is good news for companies like physical bullion supplier, GoldMoney, which finished the months-long inspection of its vast metal holdings earlier this year.

Procuring the technology to ensure clients peace of mind seems to be an investment decision worth its weight in, well, tungsten, at least!

The inspection technology is demonstrated in the following video from GoldMoney:



About the Author
Randolph Jonsson A native San Franciscan, Randolph attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland before finding his way to the film business. Eventually, he landed a job at George Lucas' Industrial Light + Magic, where he worked on many top-grossing films in both the camera and computer graphics departments. A proud member of MENSA, he's passionate about technology, optimal health, photography, marine biology, writing, world travel and the occasional, well-crafted gin and tonic!   All articles by Randolph Jonsson
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13 Comments

How much does this device cost and where it is available?

inncircle
28th August, 2011 @ 11:21 pm PDT

this has been around for a while.

it can only show discontinuities in the gold, if there is a bar of a strictly different material in there you'll see it.

of course the cat and mouse game will continue. the cheaters will simply adapt to this. but maybe not so simply. it will be costly.

Facebook User
29th August, 2011 @ 10:04 am PDT

It is too bad they invented this machine because I like the idea of bankers getting cheated instead of them cheating others.

Nelson
29th August, 2011 @ 10:27 am PDT

GoldMoney has not pardnered with merchants to allow direct purchases using gold grams or I would have funded the account I opened in 2005. I expected this to be the logical step in breaking the international banking cartel. It would revolutionize the world monetary system by restoring economic stability. However, it would be met with extreme, violent counter measures by the tiny elite who benefit from controlling the creation of money at the expense of everybody else. Since they are the most powerful economic and political elite in the world, monetary freedom is unlikely.

Can this technology be applied to metal detectors for scanning large areas? A new company that looks for gold ore on the sea floor uses a secret scanning device.

voluntaryist
29th August, 2011 @ 12:03 pm PDT

ultrasound might not see well into the ground where gold and other metalsd are waiting to be discovered. In any case, such app would require a lot more reception antenna. Magnetometers are still the prefered firstline, are they not?

Walt Stawicki
29th August, 2011 @ 04:38 pm PDT

Whatever happened to Archimedes "Eureka" method?

Patrick Corliss
29th August, 2011 @ 08:04 pm PDT

big surprise about CHINA Tungsten Online saying to not use it for illegal purpose, hint, nudge, snicker ;) yeah sarcasm

Bill Bennett
29th August, 2011 @ 08:15 pm PDT

Didn't Archimedes have something to say on this topic?

Arkay
29th August, 2011 @ 08:27 pm PDT

Google for gold tungsten. You'll find a whole lot of information on the worldwide scam by China to pollute the world's gold supply with gold bars that are mostly tungsten.

Why it has worked so well is because the density of tungsten is only a tiny amount less than that of gold. They're so close that it would take an extremely precise method of measuring the mass VS volume to find the fake bars.

Until this ultrasound device, the only other methods to find the fakes involved drilling or cutting into the bars, which is costly because the real bars would then have to be melted and re-cast, plus all the time taken and collecting all the little gold shavings.

The ultrasound method is non-destructive and should only take a few seconds per bar.

This fake gold scam has been known for quite a while yet none of the major media has bothered to report on it.

Gregg Eshelman
29th August, 2011 @ 09:30 pm PDT

Yes, @Gregg Esheiman, I have read a few articals on Tungsten being used in gold bars before. The reports I have researched speculate that half the Gold Bars in Fort Knox are half filled with tungsten. It was a move by a former US President, as the story goes. It said the order was given to gold smiths to take half the Gold in the deposit and make it double. Hence introduce tungsten. This came up again just a few years ago when a Germain Bank tested some GOLD it got which originated from Fort Knox. I am still unsure about this, and think that it may be an instriment to try and devalue and discredit the Fort Knox holdings, as it happens to hold the most mined gold in the world.

Does NEW WORLD ORDER, ring any bells, it is just one of the ways people will go out of their way in the pursuit of GREED. It is however exciting that AU is near $2,000 US an oz. Considering in 2000 it was about $800! As we move into GFCII, no it is no where near over, and GOLD will make it to $5,000 an oz. in less than 2 - 3 years as the Stock Markets react to Falling Home Prices, Raised Interest, and LESS Food to FEED even the devloped countries, due to increased weather and other natural disasters... So Gold and Silver it's Way Under Valued friend, would be a great place to park you hard earned cash. JUST WATCH for Counterfit Bars, get quallity and garrentees with all Gold Bars Bought!! Scott (Australia)

Scott Bailey
30th August, 2011 @ 04:50 am PDT

As already mentioned...

The ultrasound technique only works if a Bar of tungsten has been "wrapped " in gold.

If the metal is a gold-tungstel alloy, though it can be detected by analysing a shaving of the gold (though electroplating a micron layer of gold on the outside will overcome that one) the technique may not work, unless tungstel had a very different speed of sound to gold (that is likely, as tungsten is much harder)

Nice to see someone in on the ball, making more bullion from the Situation.

There are very few problems in life, merely opportunities to clean up...

MD
30th August, 2011 @ 06:06 pm PDT

@MD

Any cost-effective method of physical-gold fraud would've been extensively used by now, as gold's been around for a very long time.

"If the metal is a gold-tungstel alloy"...

it doesn't exist on planet earth!

If you ever succeed in making an alloy with both gold and tungsten in it, please give me a call!

And what on earth is this "tungstel" you keep typing. It occurs in exactly one place on the whole internet, right in your post above. Did you dream it up?

Gold-electroplated tungsten is a dead-giveaway and can be caught in 10 seconds. Hit it with a pen, it doesn't ring right. Hit it with a centrepunch, it doesn't dent right.

sleat
27th March, 2012 @ 07:06 am PDT

of course, if they wanted to, they could make it easy to foil tainting with tungsten.

Instead of keeping gold in the form of bars, use spools of fine gold wire. Test by simply spooling from one reel to another.

Mij M. Mijj
20th September, 2012 @ 10:20 pm PDT
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