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Prediction and Preliminary Standardization of Fire Debris Constituents with the Advanced Distillation Curve Method

Authors

  • Thomas J. Bruno Ph.D.,

    1. Thermophysical Properties Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 325 Broadway, MS 838.00, Boulder, CO 80305.
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  • Tara M. Lovestead Ph.D.,

    1. Thermophysical Properties Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 325 Broadway, MS 838.00, Boulder, CO 80305.
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  • Marcia L. Huber Ph.D.

    1. Thermophysical Properties Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 325 Broadway, MS 838.00, Boulder, CO 80305.
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  • Contribution of the United States government; not subject to copyright in the United States.

Additional information and reprint requests:
Thomas J. Bruno, Ph.D.
Properties for Process Separations
Thermophysical Properties Division
National Institute of Standards and Technology
325 Broadway, MS 838.00
Boulder, CO 80305
E-mail: bruno@boulder.nist.gov

Abstract

Abstract:  The recent National Academy of Sciences report on forensic sciences states that the study of fire patterns and debris in arson fires is in need of additional work and eventual standardization. We discuss a recently introduced method that can provide predicted evaporation patterns for ignitable liquids as a function of temperature. The method is a complex fluid analysis protocol, the advanced distillation curve approach, featuring a composition explicit data channel for each distillate fraction (for qualitative, quantitative, and trace analysis), low uncertainty temperature measurements that are thermodynamic state points that can be modeled with an equation of state, consistency with a century of historical data, and an assessment of the energy content of each distillate fraction. We discuss the application of the method to kerosenes and gasolines and outline how expansion of the scope of fluids to other ignitable liquids can benefit the criminalist in the analysis of fire debris for arson.

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