Analytical Characterization of Erythritol Tetranitrate, an Improvised Explosive*

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Abstract

Erythritol tetranitrate (ETN), an ester of nitric acid and erythritol, is a solid crystalline explosive with high explosive performance. Although it has never been used in any industrial or military application, it has become one of the most prepared and misused improvise explosives. In this study, several analytical techniques were explored to facilitate analysis in forensic laboratories. FTIR and Raman spectrometry measurements expand existing data and bring more detailed assignment of bands through the parallel study of erythritol [15N4] tetranitrate. In the case of powder diffraction, recently published data were verified, and 1H, 13C, and 15N NMR spectra are discussed in detail. The technique of electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry was successfully used for the analysis of ETN. Described methods allow fast, versatile, and reliable detection or analysis of samples containing erythritol tetranitrate in forensic laboratories.

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