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Title: Detection of Inorganic Salt-Based Homemade Explosives (HME) by Atmospheric Flow Tube–Mass Spectrometry

Abstract

Using a commercial mass spectrometer interfaced with an atmospheric flow tube (AFT) allowed detection of a variety of inorganic compounds used as oxidizers in homemade explosives at picogram levels. The AFT provides reaction times between 3-5 seconds with flows of 6 L/min, enabling detection levels, after thermal desorption, similar to those previously demonstrated for RDX vapors in the low parts-per-quadrillion range. The thermal desorption of chlorate and perchlorate salts resulted in the production of the corresponding anions which have higher electron affinities than the nitrate reactant ions. A dielectric barrier discharge, used as the ionization source, produced the nitrate reactant ions. In some instances, the molecular salt formed adducts with the nitrate, chlorate, and/or perchlorate anions, giving insight into the original identity of the salt cation. Urea nitrate, guanidine nitrate, and potassium nitrate were also detected as adducts with the nitrate reactant ion. Direct room-temperature vapor detection of urea nitrate and hydrogen peroxide, which have relatively high vapor pressures compared to the other salts in this study, is also demonstrated. Room-temperature vapor detection of chlorate and perchlorate salts is possible by the addition of a dilute acid which converts the salt into a more volatile acidic form. A discussion ofmore » the instrumentation, methods used, and the ionization chemistry is provided.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. BATTELLE (PACIFIC NW LAB)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1526042
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-132747
DOE Contract Number:  
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Analytical Chemistry
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 90; Journal Issue: 13
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
chlorate, perchlorate, nitrate, detection, hydrogen peroxide, mass spectrometry, ambient ionization, homemade explosives

Citation Formats

Ewing, Robert G., Valenzuela, Blandina R., Atkinson, David A., and Wilcox Freeburg, Eric D. Detection of Inorganic Salt-Based Homemade Explosives (HME) by Atmospheric Flow Tube–Mass Spectrometry. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01261.
Ewing, Robert G., Valenzuela, Blandina R., Atkinson, David A., & Wilcox Freeburg, Eric D. Detection of Inorganic Salt-Based Homemade Explosives (HME) by Atmospheric Flow Tube–Mass Spectrometry. United States. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01261.
Ewing, Robert G., Valenzuela, Blandina R., Atkinson, David A., and Wilcox Freeburg, Eric D. Tue . "Detection of Inorganic Salt-Based Homemade Explosives (HME) by Atmospheric Flow Tube–Mass Spectrometry". United States. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01261.
@article{osti_1526042,
title = {Detection of Inorganic Salt-Based Homemade Explosives (HME) by Atmospheric Flow Tube–Mass Spectrometry},
author = {Ewing, Robert G. and Valenzuela, Blandina R. and Atkinson, David A. and Wilcox Freeburg, Eric D.},
abstractNote = {Using a commercial mass spectrometer interfaced with an atmospheric flow tube (AFT) allowed detection of a variety of inorganic compounds used as oxidizers in homemade explosives at picogram levels. The AFT provides reaction times between 3-5 seconds with flows of 6 L/min, enabling detection levels, after thermal desorption, similar to those previously demonstrated for RDX vapors in the low parts-per-quadrillion range. The thermal desorption of chlorate and perchlorate salts resulted in the production of the corresponding anions which have higher electron affinities than the nitrate reactant ions. A dielectric barrier discharge, used as the ionization source, produced the nitrate reactant ions. In some instances, the molecular salt formed adducts with the nitrate, chlorate, and/or perchlorate anions, giving insight into the original identity of the salt cation. Urea nitrate, guanidine nitrate, and potassium nitrate were also detected as adducts with the nitrate reactant ion. Direct room-temperature vapor detection of urea nitrate and hydrogen peroxide, which have relatively high vapor pressures compared to the other salts in this study, is also demonstrated. Room-temperature vapor detection of chlorate and perchlorate salts is possible by the addition of a dilute acid which converts the salt into a more volatile acidic form. A discussion of the instrumentation, methods used, and the ionization chemistry is provided.},
doi = {10.1021/acs.analchem.8b01261},
journal = {Analytical Chemistry},
number = 13,
volume = 90,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {7}
}