Investigation of the thermal degradation products of bone

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2011
Thesis identifier
  • T12985
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • The understanding of the products generated by the combustion of bones is of significant importance in the identification of human remains and of interfering products in fire debris samples. The aim of this research was to document the thermal degradation products of fleshed and defleshed bone detected using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The first phase of the study was based on the development of an experimental method for the combustion of defleshed bone that would produce a sufficient amount of pyrolysis products. The volatile compounds produced by the optimised experimental method were extracted using the passive headspace adsorption method, analysed by GC-MS, and identified by library and literature search. Finally, an investigation was carried out to determine the pyrolysis products of bone combusted in the presence of common interfering textile fibres which included acrylic, leatherette and wool. The optimised experimental method provided good repeatability and involved burning bone pieces of at least 13 g for five minutes after the ignition of the bone fat. The pyrolysis of bone produced homologous series of n-alkanes and n-alkenes, aromatics, alkyl nitriles, alkyl cycloalkanes and alkyl cycloalkenes. The pyrolysis products of the textile materials did not interfere with the identification of the volatile products of bone, but their detection was altered. Also, these materials absorbed and retained some of the bone fat as it was heated.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 2011
Former identifier
  • 939340