Explosive signatures: Pre & post blast

Evan Thomas Bernier, University of Rhode Island


Manuscripts 1 and 2 of this dissertation both involve the pre-blast detection of trace explosive material. The first manuscript explores the analysis of human hair as an indicator of exposure to explosives. Field analysis of hair for trace explosives is quick and non-invasive, and could prove to be a powerful linkage to physical evidence in the form of bulk explosive material. Individuals tested were involved in studies which required handling or close proximity to bulk high explosives such as TNT, PETN, and RDX. The second manuscript reports the results of research in the design and application of canine training aids for non-traditional, peroxide-based explosives. Organic peroxides such as triacetonetriperoxide (TATP) and hexamethylenetriperoxidediamine (HMTD) can be synthesized relatively easily with store-bought ingredients and have become popular improvised explosives with many terrorist groups. Due to the hazards of handling such sensitive compounds, this research established methods for preparing training aids which contained safe quantities of TATP and HMTD for use in imprinting canines with their characteristic odor. ^ Manuscripts 3 and 4 of this dissertation focus on research conducted to characterize pipe bombs during and after an explosion (post-blast). Pipe bombs represent a large percentage of domestic devices encountered by law enforcement. The current project has involved the preparation and controlled explosion of over 90 pipe bombs of different configurations in order to obtain data on fragmentation patterns, fragment velocity, blast overpressure, and fragmentation distance. Physical data recorded from the collected fragments, such as mass, size, and thickness, was correlated with the relative power of the initial device. Manuscript 4 explores the microstructural analysis of select pipe bomb fragments. Shock-loading of the pipe steel led to plastic deformation and work hardening in the steel grain structure as evidenced by optical microscopy and microhardness testing respectively. ^

Subject Area

Chemistry, Analytical|Engineering, Materials Science

Recommended Citation

Evan Thomas Bernier, "Explosive signatures: Pre & post blast" (2008). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3326508.