The Strategic Fit of Trace Eye-D Swipes for screening for IEDs or Post Blast Analysis


Several recent notable terrorist attacks and plots have all involved the use of hydrogen peroxide-based explosives, which include the 2005 London bomb attacks, liquid bomb plot and 2015 Paris incidents. These more unstable hydrogen peroxides-based explosives are favoured by terrorists and their use remains a significant threat. The materials for commercial and military grade explosives are almost all based on nitrates, they are highly regulated, and they can be difficult for terrorists to obtain or access. Terrorists therefore prefer homemade explosive devices (HMEs) because the materials are readily accessible and small quantities can be highly destructive. Most of the current methods of explosive detection are inapplicable for flexible and mobile use in large public venues. They involve fixed and expensive immobile machines for testing and sampling and cannot efficiently accommodate a high volume of people or property, other than at static security checkpoints. The mobility of such machines is poor, and they are difficult to use in vehicles, particularly HGV’s, in confined spaces and in locations where suddenly there is a requirement for testing, for example with unattended baggage and vehicles moving from land-side to air-side environments.

Trace Eye-D identified this problem and developed a detection product for use in such difficult environments, the PB-33 swipe and reveal wipe, to detect the presence of such hydrogen peroxide-based explosives. They have also developed the NB-36 swipe and reveal wipe which has dual use, detecting both nitrate-based explosives and firearms residue.


The need for mobile, flexible, simple, fast, affordable, and reliable testing methods, capable of large volume screening for both nitrate and hydrogen peroxide-based explosives, in all sorts of environments and circumstances, is critical. Used together the two wipes cover both these main range of threats in terms of detection capability. They are simple to use, highly mobile, they provide almost instantaneous detection, they are affordable and, we believe, reliable and they are capable of being used for large volume screening and in cramped and difficult to access environments.


The PB-33 and NB-36 formulas work by immediately detecting precursors and impurities and simply alert the operator when a threat is present, so appropriate action can be taken. A positive sample of Trace Eye-D’s Formula PB-33 indicates a hydrogen peroxide-based explosive such as, but not limited to Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), Hexamethylene Triperoxide Diamine (HMTD) or Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEKP) may be present. The wipe instantly turns purple in the presence of a threat. Formula PB-33 is over 99.7% accurate and testing has been conducted in cooperation with the US Transport Security Administration (TSA) at a Florida international airport on two occasions. The operational trials tested a total of 2000 passenger bags, 1000 on each occasion none of which solicited a positive alarm, and in the second trial of the 40 TSA test bags that had been dosed with trace amounts of 30% peroxide, none tested negative, indicating a 0% false alarm rate and 100% true positive detection for that trial.



A positive sample of Trace Eye-D’s NB -36 formula indicates that either a Nitramide based explosive such as RDX  (also known as 1,3,5-Trinitroperhydro-1,3,5-triazine or cyclonite or  hexogen) or HMX (also called octogen)  or a Nitrate ester based explosive, such as PETN Pentaerythritol tetranitrate),  ETN, Nitro-glycerine, EGDN (ethylene glycol dinitrate) or  nitrocellulose, may be present, with the wipe turning a magenta red if explosives are present. This product has been successfully tested under internal laboratory conditions and has yet to be externally validated.


These products should significantly enhance detection capabilities and provide a major improvement to the explosive detection capability. The PB-33 and NB-36 prototype products do have tangible operational benefits over other commercially available and state-of-the-art technologies and equipment. They provide improved detection accuracy, they reduce screening times significantly, are highly portable and flexible. They allow much greater use in more confined environments as well as greater throughput, and both products are simple to use and operators require minimal training, thus reducing the cognitive and physical burden on the operator. It is estimated that someone can be ready to use both products with 10 minutes of introduction to easy to follow instructions. The PB-33 and NB-36 products are inexpensive, allowing mass production and use, lightweight, and not overly technically reliant. Neither products require servicing, calibration, or power sources. Operators can store multiple numbers of both products on their persons. Team Trace is also keen to establish a licensed production centre in the United Kingdom, which it views as the most appropriate location in Europe.


In previous testing at Tampa Airport Florida sponsored by the US Department of Homeland Security, 2000 PB-33 wipes using the same technology and chemical substances, but with an immature design model, determined this ‘colorimetric’ approach to yield near instantaneous results.


Who benefits from the innovation?

The technology is designed to equip military, law enforcement agencies, other security providers and commercial entities with solutions for counter-terrorism operations and threat detection. Trace Eye-D’s PB-33 and NB-36 swipe and reveal wipes identify trace quantities of explosive residue present resulting direct or indirect handling and bomb making activities by detecting both nitrate and hydrogen peroxide-based explosive trace residues. Military, Law Enforcement, Emergency Responders, Ports and Border authorities as well as Commercial entities would all benefit from this technology with sensitive, fast, and inexpensive detection of Improvised Explosive Devices.




Fig. 1 PB-33 product pouch

Fig. 2 Actual size of wipe compared to the size of a Dollar Bill

Fig 3. NB-36 Wipe Pouch with magenta color reaction

(Prepared data document by the IP owners and manufacturers (Trace Eye-D)

AC Nova Technologies, Inc.

(ATI Pharma)

Copyright © AC Nova Technologies (ATI Pharma)