Volume 50, Issue 1 (January 2005)
Determination of Elemental Sulfur in Explosives and Explosive Residues by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
A new method for the positive identification of elemental sulfur in explosives and explosive residues is developed. Following a carbon disulfide wash of explosives or explosive residues, a sample of the extracted material is injected onto a gas chromatography (GC) column, then analyzed via mass-selective (MS) detection. A positive identification of elemental sulfur is based on both retention time and fragmentation pattern. The GC-MS method is demonstrated to be useful in detecting and positively identifying elemental sulfur from both burned and unburned explosive mixtures. With a detection limit of 2.5 ng (2.5 × 10-9 grams) of elemental sulfur on the column, it is shown to be 400 times more sensitive than the presumptive chemical color test that is currently the method employed for detection of small amounts of sulfur.