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Need Acid to Dramatically Dissolve Metal
Old 10-24-2015, 05:34 PM   #1
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Need Acid to Dramatically Dissolve Metal

In my book, I have a scene where acid is dumped on an electronic device, and it foams and sparks and is destroyed.

I though hydroflouric acid would do the trick, but found (mythbusters) that it works slowly and undramatically.

Is this video real or faked? Could the spoon be plastic, with dubbed over sounds to make it seem like metal? If it's real, what acid or liquid do you think it uses?

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Old 10-24-2015, 05:37 PM   #2
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The explanation is at the end of the video. I've worked with muriatic acid and it is scary stuff. Never tried the spoon thing.
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Old 10-24-2015, 05:42 PM   #3
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Ah missed that. I'll have to find something other than dilute Mountain Dew!
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Old 10-24-2015, 05:45 PM   #4
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Sorry, Al. That just shows a very old trick. The spoon is made of gallium, which is solid at lower temperatures but will melt when you put it in hot water.
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:05 PM   #5
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Here's a nice comparison of hydrofluoric, sulfuric, and hydrochloric acids reacting with a chicken leg.



Consider other corrosives than acid. Lye, or sodium hydroxide, can be rather quick. H.H. Holmes (Herman Webster Mudgett) used a lye pit, among other features, for his guest accommodations in his Chicago hotel.



Now, for electronics.

Aqua regia, a mix of acids, dissolves precious metals. For a piece of electronics, well... (Action starts at about 5 minutes in.)



And lye, or sodium hydroxide...




Always glad to help...
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:12 PM   #6
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It must dissolve something important inside an electronic device. Plastic, insulation, circuit board, etc.

And it's got to fizz, spark, or sizzle--some immediate indication that it destroyed the device.
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:15 PM   #7
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You want dramatic? Piranha etch. You should check this stuff out when you mix it up!


Any carbon based items (chip coverings and the circuit board itself) dipped in a heated bath of this will dissolve at an explosive rate.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piranha_solution
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:16 PM   #8
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Nitric acid can dissolve precious metals such as gold. It's used to extract metal from solution in metals recovery.

https://youtu.be/D3vrFP_1I4Q
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Old 10-24-2015, 06:20 PM   #9
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Different metals react differently with different acids (and bases). Just depends on the particular metal/substance that you want to dissolve.

And keep in mind - an "electronic device" probably has a circuit board. Circuit boards are often silicon-based, resin-based, or fiberglass - which typically aren't too reactive. While some acids would dissolve the copper and other metals used for the circuits, it wouldn't likely dissolve the "entire" device. Maybe just leave the green circuit board with a few plastic capacitors sticking out?

Does that electric device have a screen? The screen is likely plastic or glass (unreactive). Maybe just have the guts/insides of the device get dissolved.

Or perhaps have the liquid react with the battery, causing a runaway chain reaction to simply foam up and dissolve the guts of the electronic device?
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Old 10-24-2015, 07:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
It must dissolve something important inside an electronic device. Plastic, insulation, circuit board, etc.

And it's got to fizz, spark, or sizzle--some immediate indication that it destroyed the device.
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Different metals react differently with different acids (and bases). Just depends on the particular metal/substance that you want to dissolve.

And keep in mind - an "electronic device" probably has a circuit board. Circuit boards are often silicon-based, resin-based, or fiberglass - which typically aren't too reactive. While some acids would dissolve the copper and other metals used for the circuits, it wouldn't likely dissolve the "entire" device. Maybe just leave the green circuit board with a few plastic capacitors sticking out?

Does that electric device have a screen? The screen is likely plastic or glass (unreactive). Maybe just have the guts/insides of the device get dissolved.

Or perhaps have the liquid react with the battery, causing a runaway chain reaction to simply foam up and dissolve the guts of the electronic device?
Right. You aren't going to dissolve all that stuff with one thing. Insulation might be teflon, etc. Plastics are not really affected (short term anyway), by acid or base.

Like MooreBonds suggests, burn it up with a lithium battery reaction, or give to that guy "Will it blend?"



-ERD50
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Old 10-24-2015, 08:06 PM   #11
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Or I can just have a "self-destruct" mode.
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Old 10-24-2015, 09:01 PM   #12
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Isn't the book based a bit in the future? Make up a new compound, hendrixic acid or something.


Sadly, I was completely unable to find a video of The Pepsi Syndrome episode of SNL. It seems like the perfect fit.
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Old 10-24-2015, 09:37 PM   #13
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Sorry, Al. That just shows a very old trick. The spoon is made of gallium, which is solid at lower temperatures but will melt when you put it in hot water.
The explanation that pops up at the end suggests a chemical reaction, not a physical one........might be related to this one
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Old 10-25-2015, 04:13 AM   #14
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For dramatic effects consider opening up your search to include more general oxidizing agents, not just strong acids and bases. Something like ClF3, chlorine trifluoride, won't eat some common metals like steel and aluminum but will violently attack almost everything else.
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Old 10-25-2015, 07:25 AM   #15
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What about a super magnet or putting the phone close to a high voltage cable? The induced voltage shorts out phone etc..... or even electrical contact cleaner...I have seen many a electrical components melt, short, and fail because of the use of the wrong type.
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Old 10-25-2015, 07:41 AM   #16
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No idea whether it would fume but aqua fortis (nitric) and aqua regia (nitric and hydrochloriic) were the alchemists go to powerful acids. Using one of those ancient terms could be fun and literary.
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:15 AM   #17
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or give to that guy "Will it blend?"


Damn-I sure wouldn't want to be blending stuff like that without a respirator with a separate air supply! Imagine all of the fine particulates he's breathed in from his various shows!
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Old 10-25-2015, 11:31 AM   #18
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When I was younger and lived in AZ my father drained the concrete pool to acid wash it. He had a stubborn stain and finally mixed the HCl with another pool acid that was used for adjusting PH and the bucket started fuming. He put the plastic brush on a stick in to the bucket and got a few swipes at the stain as the brush dissolved. We had to leave the pool as the fumes spread. I'm sure there are some common pool acids that will do as you envision.
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Old 10-25-2015, 12:49 PM   #19
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No idea whether it would fume but aqua fortis (nitric) and aqua regia (nitric and hydrochloriic) were the alchemists go to powerful acids. Using one of those ancient terms could be fun and literary.
Aqua regia wasn't very impressive on a YouTube attempt to destroy an iPhone 5--although once they put it into hydrofluoric for a while and then came back to nitic/hydrochloric, it did get a little theatrical with "smoke" and destruction: All in all though, probably not what would be needed for the described book passage.
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Old 10-25-2015, 01:30 PM   #20
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Almost any chemical reaction will start slowly, be it acid or oxidizer. Surface areas are low, there are a lot of inert materials, most electrical components have cases, and many boards and components have conformal coatings (plastic based spraycoat to keep out moisture or other materials).

What about rethinking the concept? Someone above mentions that this is a futuristic book, so...

What about a suspension of piezolectric nanobots? Extremely high voltages that will spark to any grounded surface, the on-state can be triggered by oxygen (when the bottle is opened and poured/spilled) by an organic molecule switch with oxygen receiver that is on the exterior of the bots, and they can retain enough energy to repetitively compress a piezolectric for a few seconds or so.

Perhaps a bit complex, in retrospect, but I now think it would be interesting to create.
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