NIST, ASTM land a one-two punch to fight explosives terrorism

Mar 31, 2011
SRM 2906 includes four ampoules of each of the three explosives and a blank along with a dropper bottle for each. NIST researchers formulated the concentrations of these solutions to be near but above the detection limit of commercial swipe-type detectors, which are commonly based on ion mobility spectrometry. Credit: NIST

Trace-explosives detectors (TEDs) are an increasingly common sight at airports and on loading docks, and emergency response personnel carry them to evaluate suspicious packages. A new test material developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in cooperation with ASTM International enables users of these products to evaluate their performance and reliability.

The new testing material, NIST Standard Reference Material (SRM) 2906, Trace Explosives Calibration Solutions, was designed to meet the specifications of ASTM E 2520-07, Standard Practice for Verifying Minimum Acceptable Performance of Trace Explosive Detectors. ASTM is one of the leading industrial organizations for the development of voluntary consensus standards.

The NIST reference material contains calibration solutions of three high explosives: RDX (an ingredient in Composition C-4), PETN, and TNT. Under the test protocol, users sequentially apply a single drop of explosive solution and a solvent blank to swipes, the solvents are allowed to evaporate, and the instrument is tested. A simple ‘yes-no’ alarm checklist is used to determine TED performance.

SRM 2906 includes four ampoules of each of the three explosives and a blank along with a dropper bottle for each. NIST researchers formulated the concentrations of these solutions to be near, but above, the detection limit of commercial swipe-type detectors, which are commonly based on ion mobility spectrometry. When tested with the solutions, properly functioning TEDs should provide an alarm response.

This SRM fully satisfies the need for independent test materials with low uncertainties in concentrations necessary for reliable TED evaluation. Equipment vendors may use the SRM to improve and optimize their designs and demonstrate to their customers how well their machines function. Buyers may use the SRM to make sound procurement decisions. The combination of a validated standard practice and SRM will provide TED users with a reliable means of verifying initial and continuing field performance of their equipment, contributing to the fight against explosives terrorism.

Explore further: New startup will develop non-stick surfaces for broad range of industrial applications

More information: www.nist.gov/srm/index.cfm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NIST releases new standard for semiconductor industry

Oct 12, 2006

A wide range of optical electronic devices, from laser disk players to traffic lights, may be improved in the future thanks to a small piece of semiconductor, about the size of a button, coated with aluminum, gallium, and ...

Towards better explosives detectors

Oct 21, 2010

Over the past decade, Christine Mahoney and a team of scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Maryland have been working to stop the threat of terrorist-based attacks in the form of explosives ...

Recommended for you

Figuring out how we get the nitrogen we need

Oct 28, 2014

(Phys.org) —Nitrogen is an essential component of all living systems, playing important roles in everything from proteins and nucleic acids to vitamins. It is the most abundant element in Earth's atmosphere ...

Keeping hydrogen from cracking metals

Oct 28, 2014

Metal alloys such as steel and zirconium that are used in pipes for nuclear reactors and oil fields naturally acquire a protective oxide or sulfide layer. But hydrogen penetration can lead to their breakdown ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.