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Temperature Sensors Embedded in Paint for Fire Debris Analysis and Arson Scene Investigations

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2019
11 pages
This is the Final Summary Overview of a research project with the goal of providing fire and arson-scene investigators with a new tool for more reliable temperature measurement during fire testing/modeling and forensic investigations.

The project involved a demonstration of the feasibility of the researchers' temperature-duration (TD) sensors embedded in wall paint as a means of measuring and recording temperature during fire events. The project had three objectives. First, develop and evaluate the means to embed the TD sensors into paint and subsequently recover and separate them from the paint. Second, calibrate the sensors for temperatures between 400 K and 1400 K and heating durations between 1 minute and 60 minutes. Third, compare experimentally determined fire test results with modeling-determined fire test results, as well as to assess the performance of the sensors. The design and methods for achieving each of these three objectives are described. The findings indicate that efforts toward the first objective resulted in the development of the means to embed the sensor particles into paint and subsequently analyze them with and without extraction from the paints. Regarding the second objective, the researchers performed calibration measurements for various temperatures and durations, based on the burn conditions at the ATF Fire Research Laboratory (FRL). Regarding the third objective, multiple burn tests were conducted at the ATF FRL; the analysis for the most recent tests is in process, and results for a few earlier tests are in the current report. Overall, initial results indicate the sensors can passively measure and record temperature. This capability could be used in various applications, with the most likely initial application being as a tool for future fire investigators. Next steps suggested by the ATF team are outlined. 7 figures and a list of 7 project publications

Date Published: January 1, 2019