Forensic science international

Recovery of oxygenated ignitable liquids by zeolites, Part II: Dual-mode heated passive headspace extraction.

PMID 24811978


Previous studies performed by our research group have suggested that zeolites are a suitable adsorbent for the recovery of oxygenates from fire debris through heated passive headspace extraction. Zeolite 13X, in particular, has been shown to be effective for recovering analytes with molecular diameters smaller than 10Å. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the addition of zeolite 13X to heated headspace extraction for the recovery of ignitable liquids. Comparative recoveries of petroleum and alcohol-based ignitable liquid mixtures were studied utilizing activated charcoal strips and zeolites, individually and in tandem. In the presence of both adsorption media within the same sample can, activated charcoal strips recovered the majority of gasoline components, while zeolites recovered the majority of oxygenated compounds. This phenomenon was attributed to the size exclusion properties, polarity, and available surface area of zeolites. This research supports the use of zeolites with activated charcoal strips in a "dual-mode" preparation for casework in which the presence of an ignitable liquid is suspected. The described method allows for the recovery and concentration of ignitable liquid residues in a single extraction procedure, whether the ignitable liquid is petroleum-based or oxygenated in nature.