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    The Polish TU 154M plane, Polish Air Force Flight 101, had crashed near Smolensk on 10th of April 2010. The crash was investigated by The Interstate Aviation Committee, whose conclusions were questioned by a number of Polish scientists. The cause of the crash still appears to be incompletely documented and requires additional evidence. In this paper, investigations of a solid material eluted from a piece of cloth of one of the victims of the crash are described. High resolution mass spectrometry was applied to analyze the soot left after controlled ethylene oxide (EO) explosions, performed under different conditions. These included electric ignition of EO vapors in a large volume steel container, and explosions of glass tubes filled with liquid EO, stimulated by thermally initiated explosions of pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN). One of these explosions was conducted in the vessel used for the electric ignition of EO and the other in a hermetically locked, small volume container. It was shown that the soot comprises a set of C2 H4 O homopolymers and copolymers whose characteristic MS patterns are condition-dependent. The MS spectrum of the postcrash sample referred to above reveals a number of polymers that are also present in the soot obtained in PETN-initiated ethylene oxide explosions. It can be concluded that the piece of cloth was subjected to an EO explosion initiated by an explosion of energetic material, possibly PETN. Similar control experiments with ethylene glycol (EG) showed that the polymers identified in the investigated postcrash sample could not originate from exploding EG. © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Forensic Sciences published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Academy of Forensic Sciences.


    Jacek Wójcik. Mass spectrometry of the soot left after ethylene oxide explosion answers some questions on the crash of Polish Air Force Flight 101. Journal of forensic sciences. 2022 Mar;67(2):775-785

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    PMID: 34766629

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