ERIC Number: EJ726113
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Jul-1
Simplex Optimization of Headspace-Enrichment Conditions of Residual Petroleum Distillates Used by Arsonists
Warnke, Molly M.; Erickson, Angela E.; Smith, Eugene T.
Journal of Chemical Education, v82 n7 p1082-1085 Jul 2005
A forensic project is described that is suitable for an undergraduate instrumental methods lab. Accelerants commonly used by arsonists are analyzed by static headspace enrichment followed by gas chromatography. The conditions used for headspace enrichment (e.g., time and temperature) are known to influence the distribution of hydrocarbons extracted from an arson sample. To minimize artifacts associated with headspace enrichment, simplex optimization was used to determine the optimal time and temperature for the various classes of common hydrocarbon accelerants. Both optimal enrichment times and temperatures were determined to be significantly lower than recommended by ASTM procedures for all accelerant classes. The time and temperature ranged from 1 hour at 55 degrees C for lighter fluid (class 1) to 4 hours at 90 degrees C for diesel fuel (class 4).
Descriptors: College Science, Science Laboratories, Laboratory Experiments, Science Education, Chemistry, Crime, Thermodynamics
Journal of Chemical Education, Subscription Department, P.O. Box 1267, Bellmawr, NJ 08099-1267. Web site: http://jchemed.chem.wisc.edu/AboutJCE/contact.html.
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A