Evaluation of Evaporation and Distillation in the Creation of Training Samples for Arson Canines

Project summary

Craven Community College students prepare gasoline samples for training detection dogs as requested by New Bern Fire and Rescue. The experimental work in the project was carried out after the Organic Chemistry I and II labs were completed.

The project began with Flex Fuel gasoline (~85% ethanol, which we hypothesized would absorb the most water); a 50% evaporated training sample was produced by fractional distillation and ambient evaporation (on 2 days with varying humidity levels). The samples, fresh and 50% evap, were evaluated for hydrophilic content and incorporation of water was determined by analyzing the density of extracted hydrophilic content. During the Spring semester Fire Marshall Hill brought Darby to campus for a demonstration.

Participation by West Craven High School students was hindered by scheduling conflicts and never really got off the ground. They participated in a different project on copper leaching from boat paints.


  1. Multiple versions of training samples were produced using different commercially available gasoline samples, with water content analyzed
  2. Two Craven Community College undergraduate students, presented their results at the Spring 2017 ACS National Meeting. Project was the basis for honors projects and other presentations.
  3. Faculty presented work at ACS national and regional meetings.
  4. Good publicity for Craven Community College surrounding the trip to the ACS national meeting

Most successful aspect

The campus visit by Fire Marshall Hill and Darby was a great success - it allowed all of the other students in the Organic Chemistry course to engage in and learn from the experience. It also raised awareness of the possibility for future research projects in the student body as a whole.

Our trip to the ACS meeting should also be listed as a success. It was a highly educational and memorable experience for the students.

Materials produced