CBRNe World and Cranfield University update their explosive detector testing service.

05/02/2013, Winchester UK - CBRNe World & Cranfield University have made modifications to their independent lab and field testing of explosive detection systems in order to provide an even more rigorous and uniquely thorough testing standard.

Trace detectors are independently tested to the ASTM enhanced standard for trace explosive detectors (E2520 – 07 Standard Practice for verifying Minimum Acceptable Performance of Trace Explosive Detectors). The enhanced standard is only available through the CBRNe World/Cranfield University service and it tests detectors far beyond the original, basic ASTM standard. The modified ASTM enhanced standard takes this improvement further by including two peroxide explosives (TATP, HMTD). These peroxide explosives are in addition to the military explosives (TNT, RDX, PETN) already used in the ASTM enhanced test. The peroxide explosives will test a detector against a far broader range of threats, as well as address the concerns of government agencies worldwide regarding their ability to detect peroxide-based homemade explosives (HME’s).

Andrew Johnston, who developed and runs the explosive testing service said, “The addition of the peroxide explosives has been a major progression in developing the explosives testing service. The test has come a long way since its inception and the basic ASTM test. The tests now include a broad range of explosives, both military and now HME mixtures, that truly test a detector’s capability and assist the buyer in making an informed choice. CBRNe World is proud to be collaborating with Cranfield University, not only to deliver this unique commercial testing service but also as part of a wider research programme that CBRNe World has been supporting for the last year.”
The aim of the testing is to allow companies to independently verify the performance of trace explosive detection equipment, with reports that can be openly distributed by that company.


Systems will be tested in accordance with the ASTM Enhanced Standard practice for verifying minimum acceptable performance of trace explosive detectors. The system will be deemed to have passed if it successfully detects and identifies (if capable) all positive samples, returns a negative result for all blank control swabs and either identifies or gives a negative result for the interferent tests. The enhanced test involves a 'repeatability’ and probability of detection test approved by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


A series of controlled explosions are carried out, swipe samples are then taken from various points in the test area and presented to the detector, providing 'real life’, scenario-based testing. The system will be deemed to have passed if the explosive contamination is detected and identified (if capable) in positive samples, returns a negative result for all blank control swabs, and either identifies or gives a negative result for the interferent tests.

In addition to this testing there is an opportunity for longer-term collaboration between the manufacturer and Cranfield University. There is a possibility for manufacturers to loan detectors to Cranfield for use in academic research and to be referenced in published work.

For more information please contact Andrew Johnston at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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