HomeLab & Science NewsScience NewsExplosive toothpaste? I think not...

Explosive toothpaste? I think not...

Luke SavageBy Luke Savage, LEED Green Associate, Sales Engineer
On Thursday, June 13, 2013
In Science News

Perchloric Fume Hood Inside 375

This is cool on several levels. I recently sent an email to my colleagues warning them about explosives inadvertently generated with hydrogen peroxide, saying, "Hydrogen peroxide and acid reactions, especially sulfuric and nitric, will produce persulfuric and pernitric acids respectively.  These acids should be kept away from organic compounds, or they can form explosive crystals." Now there is a guy trying to detect these types of explosives, and he is using a Labconco XStream to do it.

Sandia National Laboratories researchers want airports, border checkpoints and others to detect homemade explosives made with hydrogen peroxide without nabbing people whose toothpaste happens to contain peroxide.

That’s part of the challenge faced in developing a portable sensor to detect a common homemade explosive called a FOx (fuel/oxidizer) mixture, made by mixing hydrogen peroxide with fuels, said Chris Brotherton, principal investigator for a Sandia research project on chemiresponsive sensors. The detector must be able to spot hydrogen peroxide in concentrations that don’t also raise suspicions about common peroxide-containing products.

“Hydrogen peroxide explosives are a challenge because they are dangerous, but there are so many personal hygiene products that have hydrogen peroxide in them that the false positive rate is very high,” Brotherton said.

Hydrogen peroxide is found in everyday products ranging from soap, toothpaste and hair color to laundry bleach, carpet cleaners and stain removers.

Brotherton’s Early Career Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project proved a sensor could identify relatively high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and differentiate that from a common interfering substance such as water, he said. The next step, Brotherton said, would be to work with an industrial partner to design an overall system that works faster and can be mass produced.

His work is built on field-structured chemiresistor technology developed at...

Read the entire article, "Detecting homemade explosives, not toothpaste" in Research & Development

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