Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Cindy Tran

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Karim Abdel-Hay

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Radhika Dasari

Department Affiliation



Ignitable liquids (ILs) are used as accelerants to burn items at a faster rate and the presence of an IL indicates that arson has occurred. Upon arrival to an arson scene, fire investigators access the scene and collect substrates containing ILs. The substrates, such as concrete and wood, are removed from the scene by methods that are time consuming, and require heavy machinery and tools. The evidence is transported in air-tight containers to the laboratory where analysts identify the chemical classification of the IL using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS). In this work, readily available absorbent household materials such as microfiber and paper-based products have shown to be effective in the collection of ILs from non-porous surfaces such as ceramic tile. Fibers from these materials are attached to a solid backing which ensures the removal of the fibers from the pores containing the IL. Eleven materials of varying chemical compositions were taken through several validation analyses to determine the presence of interferences and to evaluate absorption and collection capabilities. While these materials were able to recover an IL efficiently from a non-porous surface, recovery from a porous concrete surface was significantly lower. To optimize collection several aspects such as the texture of the surface and of the lifting material have been considered and were described during this research. The use of a solid absorbent lifting material to recover ILs could offer a simplified and improved collection and recovery process for a suspected IL present at an arson scene.