Determining the presence of ignitable liquids at the scene of a fire is a key part of any arson investigation. Residues of ignitable liquids are most often found in absorbent or porous material as there is a chance that some liquid will remain in the pores of the substrate after a fire. Unfortunately, the collection of ignitable liquids from porous surfaces such as concrete is especially difficult given the fixed nature of the substrate. Several on-site collection techniques have been developed to collect the ignitable liquid from the concrete directly at the scene, however they each have their own drawbacks which make them less suitable candidates for the task. This project explores the use of a peel-off gelatin material in the collection of ignitable liquids from porous concrete. This method offers a simple, mess-free, and inexpensive alternative to current methods in the field. Out of all the polymer recipes and optimization methods tested in this research, a simple gelatin and water mixture poured over sifted activated charcoal that had been lightly sprayed with acetone proved to be the most successful. This technique is still in its early stages of research and so there is plenty of room for future work with this project to validate the results seen here and to determine other variables of the technique such as its sensitivity and selectivity.
Semester/Year of Award
Mentor Department Affiliation
Open Access Thesis
Laney, Cassidy, "Peeling Off the Proof: Using Peel-Away Polymer Technology in the Collection of Ignitable Liquids During Arson Investigations" (2021). Honors Theses. 871.