Identification of accelerants, fuels and post-combustion residues using a colorimetric sensor array†
A linear (1 × 36) colorimetric sensor array has been integrated with a pre-oxidation technique for detection and identification of a variety of fuels and post-combustion residues. The pre-oxidation method permits the conversion of fuel vapor into more detectable species and therefore greatly enhances the sensitivity of the sensor array. The pre-oxidation technique used a packed tube of chromic acid on an oxide support and was optimized in terms of the support and concentration. Excellent batch to batch reproducibility was observed for preparation and use of the disposable pre-oxidation tubes. Twenty automotive fuels including gasolines and diesel from five gasoline retailers were individually identifiable with no confusions or misclassifications in quintuplicate trials. Limits of detection were at sub-ppm concentrations for gasoline and diesel fuels. In addition, burning tests were performed on commonly used fire accelerants, and clear differentiation was achieved among both the fuels themselves and their volatile residues after burning.