NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)– American researchers have developed a new device to detect a powerful homemade explosive.

Terrorists like the mixture because it’s made with seemingly innocent household chemicals like nail polish remover, CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave reported.

Dr. Jimmie Oxley is the director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center of Explosives Detection. The University has been given a $1 million grant by the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a sensor for the highly volatile explosive TATP.

“You don’t need pounds to cause a catastrophic failure,” Oxley said.

In fact, it took just a tenth of a pound of TATP to rip apart a car door. Tuesday night, Belgian police seized 33 pounds of the explosive.

TATP is made with hydrogen peroxide and acetone, items easily available at drug stores. For years, officials have relied on bomb sniffing dogs to detect TATP, but they have their limits.

Professor Otto Gregory designed the sensor that detects TATP.

“It’s an electronic trace detection system that can do and compete with a dog and doesn’t need a break. It can operate 24/7,” he told CBS2.

Gregory said that in closed spaces like airports, the sensor can detect amounts as small as 1 part per billion.

Unlike K9 units, this sensor can operate around the clock, unseen, like a smoke detector. It will begin field testing later this year.

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