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Keywords:

  • forensic science;
  • analytical chemistry;
  • triacetone triperoxide;
  • diacetone diperoxide;
  • gas chromatography/mass spectrometry;
  • improvised explosive

Abstract

The organic peroxide explosive triacetone triperoxide (TATP) is regularly encountered by law enforcement agents in various stages of its production, storage, or usage. In a previous study, it has been demonstrated that isolated, rigorously purified, TATP may degrade to form a series of chlorinated acetones when directly treated with excess concentrated hydrochloric acid. The current study extends this work to examine whether this phenomenon may be measured during the more feasible scenario of aging of rudimentarily purified TATP contaminated with trace reaction mixture. It was demonstrated that solid-phase microextraction gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analyses of aged TATP that was synthesized utilizing hydrochloric acid catalyst may identify the presence of the degradation products chloroacetone and 1,1-dichloroacetone. Upon aging of TATP synthesized utilizing either sulfuric or nitric acid catalyst, no acid specific degradation products could be identified. These findings may be exploited by forensic chemists in the analyses of TATP samples.