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Weathering Patterns of Ignitable Liquids with the Advanced Distillation Curve Method



Samuel Allen, Thomas J. Bruno


One can take advantage of the striking similarity of ignitable liquid vaporization (or weathering) patterns and the separation observed during distillation to predict the composition of residual compounds in fire debris. This is done with the advanced distillation curve (ADC) metrology, which separates a complex fluid by distillation into fractions that are sampled, and for which thermodynamically consistent temperatures are measured at atmospheric pressure. The collected sample fractions can be analyzed by any method that is appropriate. Analytical methods we have applied include gas chromatography (with flame ionization, mass spectrometric and sulfur chemiluminescence detection), thin layer chromatography, FTIR, Karl Fischer coulombic titrimetry, refractometry, corrosivity analysis, neutron activation analysis and cold neutron prompt gamma activation analysis. We have applied this method on product streams such as finished fuels (gasoline, diesel fuels, aviation fuels, rocket propellants), crude oils (including a crude oil made from swine manure) and waste oils streams (used automotive and transformer oils). In this paper, we present results on a variety of ignitable liquids that are not commodity fuels, chosen from the Ignitable Liquids Reference Collection (ILRC). These measurements are assembled into a preliminary database. From this selection, we discuss the significance and forensic application of the temperature data grid and the composition explicit data channel of the ADC.
Journal of Research (NIST JRES) - 118.003
Report Number


accelerants, advanced distillation curve, evaporation patterns, ignitable liquids, trace analysis, weathering


Allen, S. and Bruno, T. (2013), Weathering Patterns of Ignitable Liquids with the Advanced Distillation Curve Method, Journal of Research (NIST JRES), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed July 22, 2024)


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Created January 16, 2013, Updated October 12, 2021