To prevent attacks using home-made explosives, Fraunhofer ICT measures and evaluates the properties and safety parameters of improvised explosives. It also provides samples for the Test Center for Explosives Detection Systems.
Homemade explosives can be relatively easily manufactured using improvised materials. They mostly consist of explosives that are not used in the commercial or military sectors due to their high sensitivity and safety problems. The best-known examples are triacetone triperoxide (TATP) and hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD), but mixtures of oxidizing agents and fuels are also used.
Measuring the safety parameters of homemade explosives
Homemade explosives (HMEs) often have low storage stability and are sensitive to mechanical or thermal stress. However, the supply of HMEs is essential for carrying out realistic test series on detection systems, such as the systems used in airport or admission security checkpoints. At Fraunhofer ICT the relevant safety parameters are measured, such as sensitivity to friction and impact, thermal stability and the adiabatic self-heating rate. Knowledge of these parameters enables the definition of the conditions and thresholds for safe handling of these explosives.
Performance investigation of homemade explosives
Data concerning the properties of homemade explosives (HMEs) are rarely published in scientific literature. In particular, data on the detonability, detonation properties and performance of HMEs is not generally available. For this reason, Fraunhofer ICT fabricates these mixtures and characterizes them in terms of their detonation properties, initiation thresholds and performance. Investigations are carried out in a closed blasting chamber, and the performance is measured by analyzing pressure, temperature and heat flow.