Rapid forensic chemical classification of confiscated flash banger fireworks using capillary electrophoresis

Karlijn D. B. Bezemer, Lara V. A. van Duin, Carlos Martin-Alberca, Govert W. Somsen, Peter J. Schoenmakers, Rob Haselberg, Arian C. van Asten

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

In the Netherlands, the illegal use of powerful flash bangers is popular and as a result these items are frequently encountered in forensic casework. In collaboration with the Dutch police a representative sample set of the most frequently confiscated flash bangers, the Cobra 6 and Cobra 6 2G, has previously been collected also including imitation items. Classification of the different flash bangers was performed by analysing the pyrotechnic charge using capillary electrophoresis (CE) with indirect UV-detection. Two rapid CE methods were used to determine the anions and cations present in the pyrotechnic mixtures. Black and flash powders were easily distinguishable based on their main inorganic compositions, i.e., KNO3 and KClO4, respectively. Differentiation of flash powders from the commercial and imitation pyrotechnic items was achieved by the identification of Ca2+ and Mg2+ cation traces in the imitation flash banger powders. Quantitative CE results were used to explore the possibilities to differentiate seized sets of flash bangers but this proved to be difficult for commercial items due to lack of impurities and uniform production processes. In addition, inherent inhomogeneity of the powders and incomplete sample extraction yielded a relative high measurement uncertainty within a set. For the imitation items potential for set-based differentiation was observed. Although the number of seized imitation sets was limited, a first step has been taken to classify pyrotechnic mixtures to provide additional information and intelligence in forensic casework of flash bangers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100187
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalForensic Chemistry
Volume16
Early online date13 Sep 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Fingerprint

Keywords

  • Capillary electrophoresis
  • Fireworks
  • Flash bangers
  • Flash powder
  • Pyrotechnics

Cite this