Harbison’s presentation draws media

Apr 2nd, 2009 | By | Category: April 2, 2009, Issue, Research

Gerard Harbison, professor of chemistry, was a featured presenter at the American Chemical Society national meeting in Salt Lake City where he spoke at a news conference about UNL research on using computer simulations to analyze potential peroxide-based explosives.

The ACS chooses news to feature for national media at the convention. Harbison’s virtual news conference was watched live and repeated worldwide, and hundreds of news stories resulted from the chemical society’s publicity.

In his presentation Harbison challenged the theory that terrorists could produce a new and dangerous form of the explosive responsible for airport security screening of passengers’ shoes and restrictions on carry-on liquids. He and colleagues investigated the structure of a claimed explosive, tetracetone tetraperoxide, and determined that the material would be unlikely, because it is too unstable for a practical synthesis, and too sensitive to be used as weapons.


“The good news is basically this (TeATeP) is something we don’t have to worry about. The internet myths are nothing more than that,” Harbison told the ACS.

The UNL research group did computer simulations to analyze a variety of potential peroxide-based explosives in the same class as triacetone triperoxide, the powerful, easy-to-make explosive used by “shoe bomber” Richard Reid in his failed attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight in 2001, and by suicide bombers.

A story by ScienceDaily is available at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324200927.htm.

Chemistry professor Jody Redepenning and visiting scientist Jeff Woodford cowrote the abstract.

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