Since a statistical optimization of gas chromatography/vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy (GC/VUV) for the analysis of explosives has yet to be presented, in the current project, a central composite design of experiments was used to optimize GC/VUV parameters for explosive and explosive-related compounds, such as triacetone triperoxide (TATP), dimethyldinitrobutane (DMNB), nitroglycerine (NG), diphenylamine (DPA), 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), and cyclonite (RDX).
Parameters optimized included the final temperature of a ramped multimode inlet program (200 °C), GC carrier gas flow rate (1.9 mL/min), and VUV make-up gas pressure (0.00 psi). The impact of transfer line/flow cell temperature was determined not to be statistically significant. Post-blast debris was successfully analyzed to illustrate applicability to forensic analysis of explosives. Relevant compounds in single- and double-base smokeless powders were successfully identified in post-blast fragments originating from PVC and steel pipes. (publisher abstract modified)