Army

Improved colorimetric explosive detection kit

Uses dry chemistry to detect an array of chemicals commonly used in homemade and improvised explosive devices

Military Technology Sensors

The Explosive Detection Equipment Program at Naval Surface Warfare Center-Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division evaluates colorimetric explosive detection kits. (Matthew Poynor/Navy)

Home Made Explosives (HME) and Improvized Explosive Devices (IED) are weapons of choice for international and domestic terrorists. Critical to the safety of our service members and the public are uncovering these HMEs and IEDs before they are employed as well as investigating an incident after it occurs to prevent future occurrences. The ability to detect trace explosive material can make a significant impact in prevention, mitigation, and deterrence in the global effort against terrorists.

Liquid explosive detection kits require the user to premix liquid chemicals using multiple vials of liquids and successive analyses using specialized collection equipment typically packaged in a bulky container. One of the disadvantages associated with liquid explosive detection kits is the risk of liquid reagent spillage. In cases where hazardous chemicals are used (strong acids) personal safety gear such as gloves and glasses are highly recommended. Also, spillage and accidental mixing of liquid reagents may lead to inaccurate results. All of these limitations to liquid explosive detection kits can be challenging for use in the field or in stressful circumstances.

Army scientists have developed a kit and reagents for colorimetric identification of explosives which addresses the above concerns. The reagents are capable of detecting explosives containing chlorate and hydrogen peroxide; ammonia and urea; and nitrates. Detection is accomplished with dry chemistry. The simple process yields a color change comparison against a reference standard to determine the presence and type of explosive. Detection times are on the order of instantaneous to one minute.

The kit can be used by the military, law enforcement, and intelligence personnel for safe, quick and reliable determination of suspected explosive chemicals.

This US patent 10,031,119 is related to US patent 9,575,046.

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