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Proceedings Paper

Correlated column micro gas chromatography instrumentation for the vapor detection of contraband drugs in cargo containers
Author(s): Paul M. Holland; Robert V. Mustacich; James F. Everson; William Foreman; Michael Leone; Ann H. Sanders; Walter J. Naumann
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Paper Abstract

We have developed an instrument based on Micro Gas Chromatography ((mu) GC) for rapid, handheld detection of vapor signatures from contraband drugs in cargo containers. For this application, a key requirement is the ability to distinguish the vapor signatures of contraband drugs against the highly variable chemical backgrounds encountered in cargo containers. To achieve this, we split the sample and run it simultaneously on two (mu) GCs with different stationary phases using correlated column chromatography. This effectively expands `detection space' and greatly enhances the chemical selectively. As part of this effort, we have also developed an extensive correlated chromatography database of chemical vapor signatures for both contraband drugs and representative backgrounds obtained by sampling incoming cargo containers under the supervision of U.S. Customs inspectors. Our experience shows that significant vapor buildup occurs in these containers resulting in strong and variable chemical backgrounds. Typical GC signatures observed have 10 - 20 strong components with a variable number of weaker components. The signatures reflect the very large variation in the contents and extent of packing of cargo containers, and show that vapor-based chemical detectors will require a large dynamic range to be effective. Gas chromatography is well suited for this. Furthermore it appears that a correlated (mu) GC instrument can provide rapid, handheld detection which fits into existing operational scenarios for the inspection of cargo containers for contraband.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 October 1994
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 2276, Cargo Inspection Technologies, (6 October 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.189158
Show Author Affiliations
Paul M. Holland, SWLI Inc. (United States)
Robert V. Mustacich, SWLI Inc. (United States)
James F. Everson, SWLI Inc. (United States)
William Foreman, SWLI Inc. (United States)
Michael Leone, SWLI Inc. (United States)
Ann H. Sanders, SWLI Inc. (United States)
Walter J. Naumann, SWLI Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2276:
Cargo Inspection Technologies
Andre H. Lawrence, Editor(s)

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