From BBC news today.
The suicide bombers in the Paris attacks and northern (North East) part of Nigeria are using
an explosive that is relatively easy to
synthesise at home.
Chemists, however, are leading an effort to
develop sensors to sniff it out. How i wish Nigeria chemists also join.
The explosive, called triacetone triperoxide
(TATP), is produced by combining chemicals
sold in pharmacies and hardware stores.
Several research groups across the world are
now developing sensors to detect TATP before
it can be detonated. How i wish Nigeria chemists are also included because suicide bomber is the Alternative for Nigeria terrorists (boko haram) now.
“Anyone who could follow a recipe to make a
pumpkin pie could follow the recipe to make
TATP,” says Dr Kenneth Suslick, professor of
chemistry at the University of Illinois.
That is why terrorists find the chemical so
attractive, say experts. Suicide bombers all
over the world have used TATP, from
Palestinians in the West Bank to the “shoe
bomber” Richard Reid. Even in northern part of Nigeria.
Chemists are seeking to exploit a physical
characteristic of TATP known as vapour
pressure. This property refers to how readily a
compound converts from the solid to the
gaseous state.
Because TATP has a relatively high vapour
pressure, it easily becomes a gas. Therefore,
in theory, a suicide bomber wearing a vest
containing TATP should emit enough gaseous
particles to set off the alarm on a sensor.
Dr Suslick’s group has developed a handheld
scanner that detects TATP and other
explosives after they react with a colorimetric
sensor array. His work is funded by the US
Department of Defense.
When gaseous TATP molecules enter the
sensor, they encounter a solid acid catalyst.
The acid converts TATP back into its
constituent parts, acetone and hydrogen
Hydrogen peroxide, an unstable oxidising
agent, then reacts with dye molecules in the
sensor, causing them to change colour.
By detecting these colour changes, the highly
sensitive portable scanner can detect fewer
than two parts per billion TATP.
Furthermore, in a recent paper published in
the journal Chemical Science, Dr Suslick’s
team describes a more advanced sensor their
team has created, which uses a panoply of
various color-changing chemical indicators.
This new sensor detects about a dozen
different explosives.
Dr Otto Gregory, professor of chemical
engineering at the University of Rhode Island,
believes that Dr Suslick has developed a good
technology. That has not prevented his lab,
however, from working on its own.
Funded by the US Department of Homeland
Security, Dr Gregory’s team has published a
paper in the journal ECS Transactions that
describes an entirely different strategy for
detecting TATP.
Their sensor employs a tin oxide catalyst.
When TATP interacts with the catalyst, it
produces heat that is detected by the sensor.
I hope the present national security adviser will leave no stone unturned in ending suicide bombers in Nigeria when given the fund unlike…


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