Black and Smokeless Powders

Technologies for Finding Bombs and the Bomb Makers

Committee on Smokeless and Black Powder

Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology

Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.
1998



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--> Black and Smokeless Powders Technologies for Finding Bombs and the Bomb Makers Committee on Smokeless and Black Powder Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1998

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--> NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. This study was supported by Contract No. TATF-96-17 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Department of the Treasury. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 98-87764 International Standard Book Number 0-309-06246-2 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 1998 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

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--> COMMITTEE ON SMOKELESS AND BLACK POWDER Edwin P. Przybylowicz, Eastman Kodak Company (retired), Chair Margaret A. Berger, Brooklyn Law School Alexander Beveridge, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Leo R. Gizzi, Consultant, Christiansburg, Virginia Janice M. Hiroms, Consultant, Crosby, Texas Karl V. Jacob, The Dow Chemical Company Charles Parmenter, Indiana University Per-Anders Persson, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Walter F. Rowe, George Washington University Roger L. Schneider, Rho Sigma Associates, Inc. Ronald L. Simmons, Naval Surface Warfare Center, U.S. Navy Judith Bannon Snow, Los Alamos National Laboratory Ronald R. Vandebeek, Natural Resources Canada Raymond S. Voorhees, U.S. Postal Inspection Service Liaisons, Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology John J. Wise, Mobil Research and Development Corporation (retired) Barbara J. Garrison, Pennsylvania State University Project Staff Elizabeth L. Grossman, Program Officer Christopher K. Murphy, Program Officer Greg Eyring, Consultant David Grannis, Project Assistant

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--> BOARD ON CHEMICAL SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY Larry Overman, University of California at Irvine, Co-chair John J. Wise, Mobil Research and Development Corporation, Co-chair Hans C. Andersen, Stanford University John L. Anderson, Carnegie Mellon University David C. Bonner, Westlake Group Philip H. Brodsky, Monsanto Company Gregory R. Choppin, Florida State University Barbara J. Garrison, Pennsylvania State University Louis C. Glasgow, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company Joseph G. Gordon II, IBM Almaden Research Center Robert H. Grubbs, California Institute of Technology Keith E. Gubbins, North Carolina State University Victoria F. Haynes, B.F. Goodrich Company Jiri Jonas, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gary E. McGraw, Eastman Chemical Company Gregory A. Petsko, Brandeis University Wayne H. Pitcher Jr., Genencor Corporation Peter J. Stang, University of Utah Joan S. Valentine, University of California at Los Angeles William J. Ward III, General Electric Company John T. Yates, Jr., University of Pittsburgh Staff Douglas J. Raber, Director Denis Cioffi, Program Officer David Grannis, Project Assistant Maria P. Jones, Senior Project Assistant Ruth McDiarmid, Senior Program Officer Christopher K. Murphy, Program Officer Sybil A. Paige, Administrative Associate

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--> COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS Robert J. Hermann, United Technologies Corporation, Co-chair W. Carl Lineberger, University of Colorado, Co-chair Peter M. Banks, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan William Browder, Princeton University Lawrence D. Brown, University of Pennsylvania Ronald G. Douglas, Texas A&M University John E. Estes, University of California at Santa Barbara Martha Haynes, Cornell University L. Louis Hegedus, Elf Atochem North America, Inc. John E. Hopcroft, Cornell University Carol M. Jantzen, Westinghouse Savannah River Company Paul G. Kaminski, Technovation, Inc. Kenneth H. Keller, University of Minnesota Kenneth I. Kellermann, National Radio Astronomy Observatory Margaret G. Kivelson, University of California at Los Angeles Daniel Kleppner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology John Kreick, Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company Marsha I. Lester, University of Pennsylvania Nicholas P. Samios, Brookhaven National Laboratory Chang-Lin Tien, University of California, Berkeley Norman Metzger, Executive Director

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--> Preface The Committee on Smokeless and Black Powder (see Appendix A) was appointed by the National Research Council (NRC) in response to the mandate in the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 to address two basic areas: (1) the feasibility of adding tracer elements to smokeless and black powder for the purpose of detection and (2) the feasibility of adding tracer elements to smokeless and black powder for the purpose of identification. (See Appendix B for a detailed statement of task.) As part of these tasks, the committee considered potential risks to human life or safety, utility for law enforcement, effects on the quality and performance of the powders for their intended lawful use, potential effects on the environment, cost-effectiveness, and susceptibility to countermeasures in the evaluation of markers and taggants. The study focused on science and technology issues related to detecting bombs and identifying bombers, with the goal of framing the issues and furnishing a report that provides a clear description of the technical options that exist to limit the threat from bombings that use smokeless or black powder. This report presents the committee's conclusions and recommendations and provides advice to officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on which to base recommendations to Congress. In its initial meetings (Appendix C), the committee received a number of briefings that are summarized in Appendixes D and E. The committee is grateful to the individuals who provided technical information and insight during these briefings. This information helped to provide a sound foundation on which the committee was able to base its work. The committee solicited input from the scientific community and affected stakeholders on the issues delineated in the committee's charge and considered all such sources of information throughout the study.

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--> This study was conducted under the auspices of the NRC's Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology and its staff. The committee acknowledges this support. The chair is particularly grateful to the members of this committee, who worked diligently and effectively on a demanding schedule to produce this report. EDWIN P. PRZYBYLOWICZ, CHAIR COMMITTEE ON SMOKELESS AND BLACK POWDER

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--> Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's (NRC's) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Randy Becker, Los Angeles Police Department, Paul W. Cooper, Sandia National Laboratories (retired), Paul B. Ferrara, Virginia Division of Forensic Science, W. Carl Lineberger, University of Colorado, Lyle O. Malotky, Federal Aviation Administration, David W. McCall, AT&T Bell Laboratories (retired), Neale A. Messina, Princeton Combustion Research Laboratories, Roy R. Miller, United Technology, Hyla S. Napadensky, Napadensky Energetics, Inc. (retired), Harrison Shull, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School (retired), Peter J. Stang, University of Utah, Frank H. Stillinger, Bell Laboratories, and Patrick H. Windham, Windham Consulting. Although the individuals listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC.

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--> Contents     Executive Summary   1 1   Background and Overview   15     Introduction   15     Markers and Taggants   16     Origin and Scope of This Study   17     Black and Smokeless Powders: Characteristics, Production, and Distribution   18     Chemical Composition, Properties, and Legal Uses   18     Producers of Black and Smokeless Powders   22     Distribution Systems   23     Manufacturing Processes   24     Black and Smokeless Powders in Improvised Explosive Devices   27     Statistics on the Use of Improvised Explosive Devices Containing Black and Smokeless Powders   28     Total Number of Reported Bombings Involving Black and Smokeless Powders   29     "Significant" Reported Bombings   31     Targets of Bombings   33     Findings and Recommended Action   35 2   Detection of Black and Smokeless Powder Devices   39     Introduction   39     Detection Scenarios   41

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-->     Detecting Improvised Explosive Devices Containing Unmarked Powders   42     Portal Scenario   42     Suspicious Package Scenario   45     Bomb Threat Scenario   46     Markers for Black and Smokeless Powders   46     Characteristics of an Ideal Marker   46     Approaches to Marking   48     Vapor Markers   49     Radiation-emitting Markers   50     Other Marking Approaches   51     Discussion   51     Findings and Recommendations   53 3   Identification   57     Introduction   57     Methods and Approaches   58     The Role of Physical Evidence in Bombing Cases   58     Use of Black and Smokeless Powder Databases   61     Tracing the Product Through the Distribution Chain   62     Taggants for Black and Smokeless Powders   65     Characteristics of an Ideal Taggant   65     Taggant Technologies   66     Taggant Classification   67     Evaluation of Taggant Concepts Against Ideal Characteristics   69     Experience with Taggants in Explosives   82     Taggants in High Explosives   82     Use of Taggants in Switzerland   83     Taggants in Black and Smokeless Powders   84     Summary   85     Discussion   85     Implications of Taggant Use for the Analysis of Black and Smokeless Powders   89     Matching the Bomb Filler to Materials in a Suspect's Possession   90     Findings and Recommendations   90     Bibliography   97     Appendixes         A Biographical Sketches of Committee Members   103     B Statement of Task and Enabling Legislation   107     C Committee Meetings   112

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-->     D Taggant and Marker Concepts   115     E Presentations by Stakeholder Groups   123     F Committee Site Visits   130     G Laboratories Capable of Testing   147     H Regulation of Black and Smokeless Powders   150     I Glossary   154     J Acronyms and Abbreviations   164

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