A New Instant and Inexpensive Way to Detect Explosive Threats

The Issue

Terrorism is at an all-time high. In its most recent study, the Institute for Economics and Peace, estimated its cost at $89.6 billion. However, this is an elusive number. It doesn’t include the cost of increased security, higher insurance premiums, or the amount of business that is lost due to the fear of terrorism.

New and deadly explosives, mostly undetectable to sensors and current security protocols, are being increasingly used by terrorists.  Most recently, the terrorist attacks in Paris, France, utilized hydrogen peroxide-based explosives. The shoe bomber and the London bus attacks involved explosives which were also hydrogen peroxide-based. These more unstable explosive compounds are becoming the choice of terrorists, as airports, ports, and many public venues do not employ systems that easily detect them.


Because the materials for commercial and military grade explosives—almost all based on nitrates—are highly regulated, they can be difficult for terrorists to obtain. Terrorists prefer homemade explosive devices (HMEs) because the materials are readily accessible and small quantities can be highly destructive. Unfortunately, many of the favored hydrogen peroxide-based explosives, which are easily made and much more unstable than traditional nitrate-based explosives, came into use after the large-scale development and deployment of current U.S. screening methods.

Most of the current methods of explosive detection are inapplicable for large public venues. They involve expensive machines for secondary testing and sampling is often done in a random manner that cannot efficiently accommodate thousands of people at security checkpoints. The need for fast, affordable and reliable testing methods for both nitrate and now urgently, peroxide-based explosives, is critical.

The Solution

Trace Eye-D, a company in Bradenton, FL, has invented, developed and secured patents on a unique detection method that uses a simple and inexpensive swipe and reveal wipe that changes colors depending on the presence of trace elements present in the broad range of explosive compounds used today. It qualitatively detects both nitrate and peroxide-based explosive compositions and it does so in a highly reproducible manner. Double-blind testing has determined this colorimetric approach to yield near instantaneous results, with astonishingly small false positives and negligible false negatives.