The analysis of unfired propellant particles by gas chromatography - mass spectrometry : a forensic approach

Croft, Shiona Andrea (2008) The analysis of unfired propellant particles by gas chromatography - mass spectrometry : a forensic approach. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In Australia, the 0.22 calibre ammunition is the most encountered ammunition type found at a crime scene [1]. Previous analysis of gun shot residue (GSR) and unfired propellant has involved studying the inorganic constituents by Scanning Electron Microscopy or similar technique. However, due to the heavy metal build up that comes with some ammunition types, manufacturing companies are now making propellant that is safer to use. Therefore, it has become appropriate to study and analyse unfired propellant by other means. One such technique is unfired propellant analysis by gas chromatography – mass spectrometry (GC-MS). This technique focuses on the organic constituent make up of the propellant paying particular attention to diphenylamine, ethyl centralite and dibutyl phthalate. It was proposed that different batches of ammunition could be discriminated or matched to each other by using this technique. However, since the main constituents of unfired propellant are highly reactive, it was not possible to accomplish batch determination of ammunition. However, by improving extraction techniques and by removing oxygen (a catalyst for the degradation of diphenylamine) a superior method was established to help in the analysis of unfired propellant. Furthermore, it was shown that whilst differentiating batches of the same ammunition was not possible, the improved methods have helped identify different types of the same brand of ammunition. With the aid of future studies to fully explore this avenue, the analysis of unfired propellant could one day become an integral part of forensic science.

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ID Code: 17251
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Bartley, John & Rasmussen, Gary
Keywords: unfired propellant particles, gas chromatography, forensic approach
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Past > Schools > School of Physical & Chemical Sciences
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 30 Jan 2009 04:58
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:51

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