A novel adsorbent for the recovery and positive identification of ignitable liquids using GC-MS-ATD




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Peer reviewed



Through survey results and personal communication with Fire and Scene Investigators it has been reported that non-standard and various adsorbent methods are being used for the recovery of Ignitable Liquid Residues (ILRs) from solid surfaces in a fire scene. Their application is a useful alternative to ‘digging up’ of surfaces, which isn’t always possible. An adsorbent can be left on a suspected area of ILR and then easily recovered for later laboratory analysis. The current adsorbents reported (flour, sanitary products, cat litter and garden lime) have had little research carried out on their ability to aid in the later identification of ILRs. This research provides an additional novel adsorbent which has been compared to those currently described using a standard method and utilising Extracted Ion Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry-Auto Thermal Desorption. The method requires the presence and detection of target molecules in different distillates for a positive identification of the ignitable liquid. A 50:50, petrol/diesel mix was used to cover a range of distillates and both are commonly used to accelerate fire spread. Results have found that none of the presently used adsorbents were able to give a positive identification. However, the novel adsorbent from this research did result in a positive identification of petrol and diesel. Further blind trials and a test burn also resulted in all the ILRs being identified and currently the novel adsorbent is under a patent application as a universal adsorbent for recovery of a wide range of ILRs from a fire scene.


presentation of research carried out in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University


ignitiable liquid residue analysis, ATD-GC-MS, fire debris analysis, novel adbsorbent, evidence recovery


Hall, S., White, G., and Gautam, L. (2015) A novel adsorbent for the recovery and positive identification of ignitable liquids using GC-MS-ATD. 18th edition of EuroAnalysis', The European Conference on Analytical Chemistry, Bordeaux, Sept.


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)