New National Security Technology Able to Identify Explosives

  • The technology is able to identify TNT, nitrobenzene and nitronaphthalene.
  • The device will be very useful for border agents and a myriad of law enforcement agencies.
  • It uses a pump to draw the analyzed air into the evaporator.

Russian physicists from the National Research Nuclear University (MEPhi) created a new detector that can identify TNT, nitrobenzene and nitronaphthalene. The device will be very useful for border agents and a myriad of law enforcement agencies. The full invention research by MEPhi physicists was published in a report titled, Prototype of Nitro Compound Vapor and Trace Detector Based on a Capacitive MIS Sensor.

TNT Trinitrotoluene Molecule.

MEPhI (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute) is one of the most recognized technical universities in Russia. MEPhI was founded in 1942 as the Moscow Mechanical Institute of Munitions, but it was soon renamed the Moscow Mechanical Institute.

Trinitrotoluene (TNT) is a pale yellow, solid organic nitrogen compound used chiefly as an explosive, prepared by stepwise nitration of toluene. For these reasons it is the most favoured chemical explosive, extensively used in munitions and for demolitions.

Nitrobenzene is an organic compound with the chemical formula C₆H₅NO₂. It is a water-insoluble pale yellow oil with an almond-like odor. It freezes to give greenish-yellow crystals. It is produced on a large scale from benzene as a precursor to aniline.

Nitronaphthalene is a mononitronaphthalene substituted by a nitro group at position 1. It has a role as an environmental contaminant and a mouse metabolite. ChEBI. 1-nitronaphthalene is also known as Nitrol.

The two figures pertaining the new detector.

Besides the security checks that all parties must pass during border crossing, airports, etc., there is also a very important check for explosives. Currently, security services have two types of devices that work differently, but have high costs and have complex settings.

1) Mass spectrometry to detect the desired substances: the device sucks in the surrounding air and determines which ions pass through the device and in what quantity, which means which substances and in what concentration are contained in the air. Such a device produces results quickly, but any mass spectrometer is expensive equipment, which is also difficult to handle for any layman.

2) Fluorescent quenching method. During this analysis the intensity of the glow of the compound with which the ions come into contact is determined. Accordingly, the lower the glow level, the greater the concentration of the explosive. The problem is that detectors based on this method are unstable and less sensitive.

The draft and photograph of prototype detector of nitro compounds (measurement unit) with a sample preparation module for operation in the vapor registration mode. Overall dimensions of the measuring unit 530 × 210 × 200 mm (L × W × H).

Russian physicists were tasked through the Russian government to create a new system that would be cost effective and provide high precision results.

As a result, Russian engineers and chemists have developed a prototype of an explosive detector with a completely new operating principle. It uses a pump to draw the analyzed air into the evaporator, where at a temperature of 80 DEG C, vapors of TNT or other nitro compounds are released from it. Then the vapors are sent to the reactor, where at 450 degrees Celsius, the substance decomposes (a pyrolysis reaction occurs). Eventually, nitrogen dioxide NO2 is formed, the concentration of which is determined by a special sensor.

As a result, the detection limit of, for example, TNT in the device was from 10-11 g / cm3 to 10-12 g / cm3, which puts it on the same level as expensive devices. However, the prototype developed at MEPhI is cheaper than its competitors.

That the new detector allows you to detect explosives not only in the air, but also on various surfaces. To do this, a separate module is installed on the device, which collects not vapors, but solid traces of nitro compounds. All other steps are the same.

The technology is a great edition to the precision of security measures.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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