skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Source Attribution of Cyanides using Anionic Impurity Profiling, Stable Isotope Ratios, Trace Elemental Analysis and Chemometrics

Chemical attribution signatures (CAS) for chemical threat agents (CTAs) are being investigated to provide an evidentiary link between CTAs and specific sources to support criminal investigations and prosecutions. In a previous study, anionic impurity profiles developed using high performance ion chromatography (HPIC) were demonstrated as CAS for matching samples from eight potassium cyanide (KCN) stocks to their reported countries of origin. Herein, a larger number of solid KCN stocks (n = 13) and, for the first time, solid sodium cyanide (NaCN) stocks (n = 15) were examined to determine what additional sourcing information can be obtained through anion, carbon stable isotope, and elemental analyses of cyanide stocks by HPIC, isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS), and inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), respectively. The HPIC anion data was evaluated using the variable selection methods of Fisher-ratio (F-ratio), interval partial least squares (iPLS), and genetic algorithm-based partial least squares (GAPLS) and the classification methods of partial least squares discriminate analysis (PLSDA), K nearest neighbors (KNN), and support vector machines discriminate analysis (SVMDA). In summary, hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) of anion impurity profiles from multiple cyanide stocks from six reported country of origins resulted in cyanide samples clustering into three groups: Czechmore » Republic, Germany, and United States, independent of the associated alkali metal (K or Na). The three country groups were independently corroborated by HCA of cyanide elemental profiles and corresponded to countries with known solid cyanide factories. Both the anion and elemental CAS are believed to originate from the aqueous alkali hydroxides used in cyanide manufacture. Carbon stable isotope measurements resulted in two clusters: Germany and United States (the single Czech stock grouped with United States stocks). The carbon isotope CAS is believed to originate from the carbon source and process used to make the HCN utilized in cyanide synthesis. Classification errors for two validation studies using anion impurity profiles collected over five years on different instruments were as low as zero for KNN and SVMDA, demonstrating the excellent reliability (so far) of using anion impurities for matching a cyanide sample to its country of manufacture (i.e., factory). Variable selection reduced errors for those classification methods having errors greater than zero with iPLS-forward selection, and F-ratio typically providing the lowest errors. Finally, using anion profiles to match cyanides to a specific stock or stock group resulted in cross-validation errors ranging from zero to 5.3%.« less
; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0003-2700; 400904120
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Analytical Chemistry; Journal Volume: 88; Journal Issue: 3
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
chemical forensics