"Smokeless powder" refers to modern gunpowder commonly used in firearms, because it produces much less smoke than the black powder it replaced. The National Research Council called for a comprehensive national powder database in 1998, noting that such a database could enable investigators to better identify materials recovered at bombing scenes. The incompleteness of existing powder databases makes it difficult for investigators to match powders from a scene to database entries. The research project described in this article addresses the need for an extensive and searchable database of smokeless powders that was identified in the 1998 National Research Council report. Although the database has been expanded by the current project, the researchers noted that this is only a "snapshot," because the manufacturers and types of powders on the market are continually changing. Consequently, the database must be continually updated and expanded.
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