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Inorganic oxidizer detection from propellants, pyrotechnics, and homemade explosive powders using gradient elution moving boundary electrophoresis

Published

Author(s)

Shannon T. Krauss, Thomas Forbes, Dillon Jobes

Abstract

Advancement in rapid targeted chemical analysis of homemade and improvised explosive devices is critical for the identification of explosives-based hazards and threats. Gradient elution moving boundary electrophoresis (GEMBE), a robust electrokinetic separation technique, was employed for the separation and detection of common inorganic oxidizers from frequently encountered fuel-oxidizer mixtures. The GEMBE system incorporated sample and run buffer reservoirs, a short capillary (5 cm), an applied electric field, and a pressure-driven counterflow. GEMBE provided a separation format that allowed for continuous injection of sample, selectivity of analytes, and no sample cleanup or filtration prior to analysis. Nitrate, chlorate, and perchlorate oxidizers were successfully detected from low explosive propellants (e.g., black powders and black powder substitutes), pyrotechnics (e.g., flash powder), and tertiary explosive mixtures (e.g., ammonium nitrate- and potassium chlorate-based fuel-oxidizer mixtures). Separation of these mixtures exhibited detection without interference from a plethora of additional organic and inorganic fuels, enabled single particle analysis, and demonstrated semiquantitative capabilities. The bulk counterflow successfully excluded difficult components from fouling the capillary, yielding estimated limits of detection down to approximately 10 μmol/L. Finally, nitrate was separated and detected from postblast debris collected and directly analyzed from two nitrate-based charges.
Citation
Electrophoresis
Volume
42
Issue
3

Keywords

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

Citation

Krauss, S. , Forbes, T. and Jobes, D. (2021), Inorganic oxidizer detection from propellants, pyrotechnics, and homemade explosive powders using gradient elution moving boundary electrophoresis, Electrophoresis, [online], https://doi.org/10.1002/elps.202000279, https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=930147 (Accessed May 25, 2022)
Created February 1, 2021, Updated October 14, 2021