D Summary of Presentations and Materials from Marker and Taggant Vendors

To aid in its examination of existing and newly proposed marker and taggant concepts, the Committee on Marking, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials held a workshop, "Technical Details Relevant to the Use and Effectiveness of Taggants," on January 13 and 14, 1997. Among those invited to make presentations to the committee were a number of marker and taggant vendors. To guide the discussion of marker and taggant concepts, the committee developed a set of questions (Box D.1) that was sent to vendors invited to the workshop and to those contacted subsequently by the committee for information.

MARKER AND TAGGANT VENDORS THAT SUPPLIED INFORMATION

During the course of its study, the committee held discussions (see Appendix C) with the following marker and taggant vendors:

  • BioTraces Inc.,

  • Biocode Inc.,

  • Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc.,

  • Chemical Delivery Systems Inc.,

  • Innovative Biosystems Inc.,

  • Isotag LLC,

  • Micro Tracers Inc.,

  • Microtrace Inc.,

  • Special Technologies Laboratory,



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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors D Summary of Presentations and Materials from Marker and Taggant Vendors To aid in its examination of existing and newly proposed marker and taggant concepts, the Committee on Marking, Rendering Inert, and Licensing of Explosive Materials held a workshop, "Technical Details Relevant to the Use and Effectiveness of Taggants," on January 13 and 14, 1997. Among those invited to make presentations to the committee were a number of marker and taggant vendors. To guide the discussion of marker and taggant concepts, the committee developed a set of questions (Box D.1) that was sent to vendors invited to the workshop and to those contacted subsequently by the committee for information. MARKER AND TAGGANT VENDORS THAT SUPPLIED INFORMATION During the course of its study, the committee held discussions (see Appendix C) with the following marker and taggant vendors: BioTraces Inc., Biocode Inc., Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc., Chemical Delivery Systems Inc., Innovative Biosystems Inc., Isotag LLC, Micro Tracers Inc., Microtrace Inc., Special Technologies Laboratory,

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors BOX D.1 Questions on Proposed Taggant Concepts Provide an overview of your taggant concept or technique. Is this taggant concept intended for preblast detection, post-blast identification, or both? How does the technique work? How many unique taggants are possible? What is the information content of the taggant; e.g., how many years of unique identification taggants are possible at the proposed labeling rate? What level or concentration of taggant is needed (to survive a detonation and be collected)? How adaptable is the taggant to different explosive types? What is the cost of the taggant, e.g., cost per pound of taggant, cost of taggant per pound of explosive, other cost impacts such as process changes required? How are taggant detection, collection, and analysis accomplished? What materials might interfere with detection? Are special personnel training or taggant detection/analysis instruments needed? Are these instruments fixed or portable? What is the response time? What calibration requirements are necessary? What is the false alarm rate/probability of detection? Is the taggant concept (including the detection scheme) equally applicable to detection of concealed explosives on people, in baggage, etc.? What is the level of development of this concept (ideas, experiments, calculations, field tests, operational experience with simulants or explosives, etc.)? What kind of testing has been conducted on this concept? Taggant survivability following an explosion? At a measured, high detonation rate? Taggant effects on explosive sensitivity? Compatibility testing? Shelf life or long-term stability of the taggant and effect on explosives? Safety testing of the taggant? Toxicity testing of the taggant? Environmental effects of the taggant; e.g., has a material safety data sheet or premanufacture notification been prepared? What is the environmental persistence of the taggant; e.g., is it biodegradeable? How does the taggant affect explosive performance? How is the taggant added to the explosive? If added during manufacturing, what are the effects on the operation and throughput rate? How is proper dispersal of the taggant in the explosive ensured? Is it applicable to both batch and continuous manufacture of explosives? Are there unique operational, record-keeping, or training requirements for this taggant concept for either explosive manufacturers or users, or for law enforcement personnel? How susceptible is this concept to countermeasures, including ease of removal? How susceptible is this concept to cross-contamination? What is the market for this concept? Are there non-explosive applications?

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors SRI International, and Tri-Valley Research. In addition, the committee received and reviewed information from a number of other vendors, including the following: Centrus Plasma Technologies Inc., MICOT Corporation, Micro Dot Security Systems Inc., Missouri Scientific Corporation, Natura Inc., Science Applications International Corporation, Security Features Inc., Tracer Detection Technology Corporation, University of Missouri-Rolla, University of Strathclyde, Scotland, and Urenco Nederland B.V., the Netherlands. The following brief descriptions of each vendor's concept were culled from presentations and written materials supplied by the vendors. BioTraces Inc. BioTraces Inc. principally makes instrumentation for detection and quantification of low levels of biomolecules. Company representatives proposed a taggant concept based on the use of multiphoton detection of appropriate biological and organic molecules.1 Biocode Inc. Biocode Inc. uses immunoassay techniques—utilizing engineered antibodies—to specifically identify matching inert chemicals added to materials as taggants. Biocode currently provides companies in the fuels, inks, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and other industries with systems for marking or coding their products as a means of detecting and deterring counterfeiting. The company proposed this concept for postblast identification of explosives.2 1    Andrzej Drukier and James Wadiak, BioTraces Inc., presentation to the committee, January 14, 1997, and information from BioTraces Inc. 2    Frank Angella, Biocode Inc., presentation to the committee, January 14, 1997, and information from Biocode Inc.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc. Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc. synthesizes molecules (including some explosive compounds) tagged with stable, nonradioactive heavy isotopes. These isotopes are used mainly for biochemical and environmental trace analysis. Tagging of explosives through use of this approach was proposed.3 Centrus Plasma Technologies Inc. In written testimony,4 Centrus Plasma Technologies Inc. proposed using small quantities of enriched, stable isotopes (either as bonded isotopes in a compound or as a fine powder added to an explosive)—detectable by mass spectrometry—to tag explosives. According to Centrus, the use of an admixture has the advantages of avoiding complete dispersal in a detonation of high-grade explosive and of being a clear indicator for the included tag. The small quantities of isotopes required and the fine powder admixtures are believed to minimize any adverse effects on the tagged explosive materials. Projected industry costs for this method were estimated by Centrus to be in the range of $40 million to $60 million per year. Chemical Delivery Systems Inc. Chemical Delivery Systems Inc. (CDS Inc.) develops and manufactures a number of microencapsulated particle systems for controlled release of solid, liquid, or gaseous materials in various commercial and military products. CDS Inc. believes that its technologies are applicable and adaptable to both detection and identification taggants for explosives.5 Innovative Biosystems Inc. Innovative Biosystems Inc. produces a product called GeneTag™ using unique DNA sequences that can be detected in small amounts and amplified using polymerase chain reaction methods.6 The company proposed this method for postblast identification tagging of explosives. Limited six-month stability 3    Daniel Bolt, Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc., presentation to the committee, January 14, 1997, and information from Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc. 4    Bruce Freeman, Centrus Plasma Technologies Inc., "Explosive Tagging with Stable Isotopes," 1996. 5    Victor A. Cranich, Chemical Delivery Systems Inc., presentation to the committee, January 13, 1997. 6    Keith Stormo, Innovative Biosystems Inc., presentation to the committee, January 14, 1997, and information from Innovative Biosystems Inc.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors tests showed good stability. One explosion survivability test has been conducted by Innovative Biosystems on an ammonium nitrate/diesel fuel charge, yielding inconclusive results. Isotag LLC Isotag LLC uses stable (nonradioactive) isotopes to develop "molecular twins" by substituting deuterium for hydrogen in materials to provide an internal identification technique.7 In some cases, rare-earth elements or rare stable isotopes of common elements are also proposed for use. Isotag provides the marker compounds, the services to add the tag and take samples of tagged liquids, and the laboratory analytical services to verify the tag's presence and its concentration. It is currently providing tagging services for gasoline supplies of several major oil companies. In a test, Isotag exploded 1 ton of ammonium nitrate-fuel oil tagged with its isotags to verify postblast survivability and subsequent collection and analysis procedures. The company also has reportedly tagged the amount of ammonium nitrate typically produced in one day at a manufacturing plant. MICOT Corporation In written testimony,8 MICOT Corporation proposed using a taggant consisting of randomly shaped particles made from a chemically stable thermoplastic resin, encoded with a custom numerical code combination of 10 or more colored layers. MICOT™ particles are detectable with an ultraviolet lamp or magnet and come in sizes from 15 to 1,000 microns (or higher). The availability of particle sizes ranging from 5 to 8 microns with five colored layers is projected for 1998. Micro Dot Security Systems Inc. In written testimony,9 Micro Dot Security Systems Inc. proposed a self-contained, small, precision-cut polyester disk to mark or identify explosives. The Micro•Dot® can be coded with a variety of substrates, such as ultraviolet ink that fluoresces under blacklight for easy detection. It is imprinted with a 9- to 12-digit number that is a unique, one-of-a-kind sequence selected by the buyer. 7    Manuel E. Gonzalez and Dale Spall, Isotag LLC, presentation to the committee, January 14, 1997, and information from Isotag LLC. 8    Klaus Zimmermann, MICOT Corporation, October 30, 1997, and information from MICOT, January 20, 1997. 9    W. Stratford, Micro Dot Security Systems Inc., January 18, 1997.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors Micro Tracers Inc. Micro Tracers Inc. produces Microtracers™—colored, uniformly sized particles of iron grit, iron alloy, graphite, stainless steel, or silica gel that are analyzed via colorimetric techniques—that currently are used in animal and poultry feed and in building materials.10 They have been used in more than 300 million tons of animal and poultry feed since the 1960s at a reported cost of 10 cents per ton. The company has only limited experience in explosives mixing operations, although it believes that its general approach could be adaptable to explosives applications. Microtrace Inc. Microtrace Inc. manufactures the Microtaggant® Identification Particle—a 0.6- to 1.1-millimeter, irregularly shaped, multicolor and multilayered plastic particle whose color sequence serves as an identification code.11 This concept was originally developed and patented by the 3M Corporation in the 1970s. A similar product, called HF6, is also manufactured in Switzerland by Swiss Blasting AG (Schärer, 1996). Microtaggant® Identification Particles were used in explosives during a test program run by the Aerospace Corporation for the ATF in the late 1970s (Aerospace, 1980b). They have been used by the Swiss in more than 50,000 tons of explosives over the last 12 years, and are used in a number of other commercial, antitheft, and property identification applications. Microtrace Inc. reported current efforts to develop enhanced taggants for preblast detection, postblast identification, and postblast location of the particles. Missouri Scientific Corporation In written testimony,12 Missouri Scientific Corporation proposed using inorganic glass microspheres called Identispheres™ to facilitate the preemptive detection of explosives and easy taggant recovery and identification. The available variables of Identispheres™, such as particle size and fluorescent properties, were reported to provide a large number of combinations with which to uniquely identify a product. Identispheres™ were also reported to be resistant to high temperatures and blast pressures, and to be chemically inert and insoluble. 10    David A. Eisenberg, Micro Tracers Inc., presentation to the committee, January 13, 1997, and information from Micro Tracers Inc. 11    William J. Kerns and Charles W. Faulkner, Microtrace Inc., presentation to the committee, January 13, 1997, and information from Microtrace Inc. 12    G. Parker, Missouri Scientific Corporation, January 30, 1997.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors Natura Inc. In written testimony,13 Natura Inc. proposed the use of Luminates™ for the identification of explosives. Luminates™ are prepared from a select combination of food-grade amino acids, organic acids, and inorganic salts, which have phosphorescent and fluorescent properties. These luminescent chemical additives were reported to be water soluble, nontoxic, and biodegradable. Science Applications International Corporation In written testimony,14 Science Applications International Corporation proposed a detonator detection system based on multiphoton detection, a technique based on measurement of radioisotopic tracers whose decay is accompanied by the emission of multiple high-energy photons. This detection system reportedly offers extreme sensitivity, rapid throughput, ease of use, and low operating costs. Security Features Inc. In written testimony,15 Security Features Inc. proposed the use of a Code-B Micro Tracing System that uses highly uniform microbeads for identification. These microbeads can be of a certain precise size, a certain color or groups of colors, a specific fluorescence, and have paramagnetic qualities, and/or a combination of any of the above. Special Technologies Laboratory Based on a JASON report (JASON, 1994), Special Technologies Laboratory studied cobalt-60 as a radioisotope for (active) preblast detection. Experimental research has been initiated for screening baggage. The company's results indicate that the concept is valid and is an effective method of detection but has not yet reached acceptable scan times. SRI International SRI International has proposed the use of upconverting phosphors—a class of manufactured, spherical particle materials that absorb radiation (such as from 13    J. Dulebohn, Natura Inc., January 31, 1997. 14    Science Applications International Corporation, ''Detonator Tagging Using Multi-Photon Detection," letter to the committee, 1996. 15    G. Woodward, Security Features Inc., February 28, 1997. 16    James Colton, SRI International, presentation to the committee, January 13, 1997, and information from SRI International. See also "Unique Excitation, Emission Forms Basis of New Taggants," Chemical and Engineering News, January 27, 1997, p. 24.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors laser excitation) at a specific wavelength and then emit radiation, via luminescence, at a shorter wavelength.16 The concept has been proposed for both pre-and postblast detection of explosives and has been successfully tested by SRI on a small-scale explosive charge. A larger-scale test is planned. Tracer Detection Technology Corporation In written testimony,17 Tracer Detection Technology Corporation proposed the development of encapsulated perfluorocarbon tracer compounds for use in tagging and detection. Tri-Valley Research Tri-Valley Research proposed using rare-earth (lanthanide) element mixtures to tag explosives for identification.18 Detection and analysis of these ingredients in explosives would be via x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy. University of Missouri-Rolla In written testimony,19 the University of Missouri-Rolla proposed the use of glass microspheres for identifying explosives. A small quantity of these microspheres would be added to an explosive during the normal manufacturing process. They are reportedly chemically inert, have an infinite shelf life, and are nonhazardous, impossible to circumvent, and inexpensive. University of Strathclyde, Scotland In written testimony,20 the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, proposed selective tagging of explosives using surface enhanced resonance raman scattering as a detection technique. Urenco Nederland B.V., the Netherlands In written testimony,21 Urenco Nederland B.V., the Netherlands, proposed using stable isotopes as a means of tagging explosives. 17    Tracer Detection Technology Corporation, letter to the committee, January 1998. 18    John Pearson, Tri-Valley Research, presentation to the committee, January 14, 1997, and information from Tri-Valley Research. 19    D. Day, University of Missouri-Rolla, white paper, January 29, 1997. 20    W. Smith and P. White, "Selective Tagging of Explosives Using Surface Enhanced Resonance Raman Scattering (SERRS) as a Detection Technique," University of Strathclyde, Scotland, undated. 21    Urenco Nederland B.V., information received by the committee September 25, 1996.

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Containing the Threat from Illegal Bombings: An Integrated National Strategy for Marking, Tagging, Rendering Inert, and Licensing Explosives and Their Precursors VENDORS BY CONCEPT TYPE To aid in its examination, the committee grouped the marker and taggant concepts proposed by vendors into five basic types (Table D.1). TABLE D.1 Vendors by Type of Marker and Taggant Concept Proposed Type Specific Vendor Biological BioTraces Inc.   Biocode Inc.   Innovative Biosystems Inc. Isotopic Cambridge Isotope Laboratories Inc.   Centrus Plasma Technologies Inc.   Isotag LLC   Isotag LLC   Urenco Nederland B. V., the Netherlands Particulate MICOT Corporation   Micro Dot Security Systems Inc.   Micro Tracers Inc.   Microtrace Inc.   Missouri Scientific Corporation   Natura Inc.   Security Features Inc.   University of Missouri-Rolla Radioactive Science Applications International Corporation   Special Technologies Laboratory Other SRI International   University of Strathclyde, Scotland Volatile vapor Chemical Delivery Systems Inc.   Tracer Detection Technology Corporation