A small, easy-to-use, lightweight explosive screening kit continues to move forward towards full fielding as a means to provide soldiers in the field with the capability to screen for suspected homemade explosive materials (HME). Using colorimetric chemistry, the Colorimetric Reconnaissance Explosive Squad Screening (CRESS) kit uses chemical reagents stored inside a specially designed four compartment plastic container. The reagents will produce color changes when they come in contact with four specific HME precursor chemicals. These precursors consist of two fuels and two oxidizers that could indicate the presence of explosives. The kit needs no power source and produces test results in less than two minutes.
The CRESS Kit has two plastic halves that fold together and click into place. One half is a sticky paper used for collecting samples and the other side contains tubes filled with the colorimetric substance. Once folded together, the two halves crush the tubes, allowing the technology to identify the substance, whether or not it is part of a harmful mixture, in approximately 30 seconds.
CRESS kit researchers are looking at developing additional reagent chemistries to identify narcotics, as well as other HME precursor chemicals used worldwide, along with classic highly explosive compounds such as TNT.