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Detection of fuel‐oxidizer explosives utilizing portable capillary electrophoresis with wipe‐ based sampling



Shannon T. Krauss, Thomas Forbes, Jeffrey A. Lawrence, John G. Gillen, Jennifer R. Verkouteren


Portable analytical instrumentation that can provide an alarm indication for the presence of explosives and related components is critical for the identification of explosives‐based hazards and threats. Many explosives incident reports involve an inorganic oxidizer‐fuel mixture which can include pyrotechnics, fireworks, flash powders, black powders, black powder substitutes, and improvised or homemade explosives. A portable CE instrument with targeted analysis of common inorganic oxidizer ions, for example, chlorate, perchlorate, and nitrate, was used here as a rapid detection platform. Unlike frequently used gas‐phase separation and detection instrumentation such as ion mobility spectrometry (IMS), an automated liquid extraction mechanism is required for CE separation using acetate paper sample collection wipes. Target inorganic oxidizers were inkjet‐printed onto sample wipes to investigate instrument response relative to the collected analyte spatial distribution. Overall, analyte signal intensities increased with off‐center sample deposition due to improved sample extraction from wipes and no change in response was observed for varied array distributions across wipes. The system demonstrated sub 200 ng detection limits for all target analytes, with further improvement when normalizing to an internal standard.


capillary electrophoresis, conductivity detection, explosives, inorganic oxidizers, screening


Krauss, S. , Forbes, T. , Lawrence, J. , Gillen, J. and Verkouteren, J. (2020), Detection of fuel‐oxidizer explosives utilizing portable capillary electrophoresis with wipe‐ based sampling, Electrophoresis, [online], (Accessed May 19, 2024)


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Created June 19, 2020, Updated March 1, 2021