Our guest this week is Scott Hansen, Founder of Retro-Brite. Scott holds an B.A. in Finance from the University of South Dakota and Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M.
- Previously Scott was on MacroFab Engineering Podcast episodes
- Scott’s background at NASA
- Thermal Systems Engineer
Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!
About The Hosts
Parker Dillmann is MacroFab's Co-Founder, and Lead ECE with backgrounds in Embedded System Design, and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. He also runs the blog, longhornengineer.com, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Texas.
Stephen Kraig began his electronics career by building musical oriented circuits in 2003. Stephen is an avid guitar player and, in his down time, manufactures audio electronics including guitar amplifiers, pedals, and pro audio gear. Stephen graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas A&M University.
Host 1 00:10
Welcome to the macro fab engineering podcast a weekly show about all things engineering, DIY projects, manufacturing, industry news and retro gaming. Were your hosts electrical engineers, Stephen Craig
Host 2 00:23
And Parker Dolman.
Host 1 00:25
This is episode 314. Our guest this week is Scott Hanson, former of retro bright. Scott holds a BA in finance from the University of South Dakota and a master's in mechanical engineering from Texas a&m.
Host 2 00:41
Previously, Scott was on the macro engineering podcast episodes, Episode 77. The idea fad Podcast, episode 223, the inverted success funnel and episode 296 idea fab does this podcast change the world? So on those episodes is where Scott and his co host Eric of the idea tank podcast come up with million or perhaps billion dollar ideas and give them away for free. This week, Scott joins us discuss his next big idea.
Host 1 01:18
Dun dun dun,
Host 1 01:19
Retro, great. Retro, right, right here. This is the next big idea.
Host 1 01:25
The next big idea in a spray bottle.
Host 1 01:29
It is it solves all sorts of world problems. It really spread one strand at a time.
Host 1 01:39
I mean, this is Marketing Gold right here. I mean, actually. This is off to a fantastic start. Okay, we Scott has been on our podcast multiple times before doing some the idea fab podcast where we basically come up with ideas. And each time we've done that, Scott and Eric has basically the podcast have been involved around the idea of fab. But so now that we have Scott on here, as a as a singular guest, I'd love to go and talk about a little bit about your background before getting into retro Brite. So Scott, you currently work at or you have worked at NASA what is what's the deal with that?
Host 1 02:30
Yeah, that's, that's my full time job right now is I'm an engineer at NASA. at Johnson Space Center specifically, I'm a thermal engineer. And what that means is I make things cool or hot I keep give the people on the spaceship happy at a happy like room temperature. If they get too hot, they get mad at us if they get too cold, they get mad at us. So yeah, that that's what to do. And there's part of my job is doing technology development. So I'm in a lab part of the day working on different types of heat exchangers, radiators, coatings do do some coatings work for for radiators to make them more efficient. And then also do some do some fluid to development work as well. And then another how to where it's a decent system management work overseeing various manned spacecraft that are there going up.
Host 2 03:36
So I got the first question here is, you mentioned room temperature? Who specifies that?
Host 1 03:45
Host 2 03:46
Like, so I'm imagining that because everyone's idea like what the room should be, like the temperature is different. Is there a thermostat that the astronauts could change? Or is there like, is there a document? There's gotta be a document that's like, room temperature defined? Yeah, everything. But still like Kelvin and not Fahrenheit and Celsius?
Host 1 04:10
Yeah, well, NASA has documents for everything. And like, multi page, like hundreds of pages of documents, and specifically requirements. And so yeah, they've got a box. If you've ever looked at a psychrometric chart before it has, it's a really funky looking chart. That is really, really useful, but it's got temperatures, it's got like wet bulb temperatures on and dry bulb temperatures, grains of water that are in the air. It's really it's really a nerdy type of chart, but really cool, really useful. But anyway, inside that bar, that box and that chart, there's like a temperature and humidity and upper bounds and lower bounds that that you want to stay in and be able to control To within that area. So yeah, if you if you get a little hot, you can kind of cool it down. If you get a little warm, you can cool warm it up a little bit. So yeah, yeah, there's ways to control it. And there's lots of documents. Lots of documents and test reports, too. Because they gotta qualify, they say that they can do the thing. And then you got to make sure that the thing that you built does the thing that you said you can build, which I'm sure you do it at your, at macro fab. Customers come to you and say, I want to think that it does XYZ. So you build it, and then you verify that it can do XYZ.
Host 2 05:45
Oh, for sure. The I just find it fascinating, like, because you just rent it as as room temperature. And I'm like, I bet that's more to that than, you know, than meets the eye.
Host 1 06:01
Oh, yeah. Yeah. But in some ways, it's no, it's no more complicated than then what's like in your car. Because you got you got a heater in the cooler like an AC system in your car. We just call it with typically a pump fluid loop that rejects out to like your radiator, which your car has got a radiator, we do that. And space is really cold. So it's like we got all the cooling we could ever want, as long as our radiators have pointed in the right direction, if you pointed because they could get burnt up and die. You burn up and die. But yeah,
Host 1 06:41
It's just like your car. But the temperature swings are incredible. Right?
Host 2 06:45
Right. This is a great question from chat, Scott, is if the control system went down where the astronauts overheat, or would they freeze?
Host 1 06:56
Oh, that is a wonderful question. It depends where they are
Host 2 07:00
In space. I don't want to just say they're in the shadow of Earth or on the sunny side of Earth, I guess.
Host 1 07:13
Yeah, yeah. And they're moving their their orbit the Earth once every 90 minutes. So there is kind of a thermal equilibrium that the vehicle reaches, but it still gets a pretty big swing. So they'll likely do both. And a lot of times the vehicle does like the Apollo spacecraft on the way to the moon, they did a thing called the barbecue roll, where the vehicle just rotated, it was saved to sun. So the sun was if this is the Apollo spacecraft, the sun was hitting it from this way. And it would just rotate and rotate and rotate around. And they called it the barbecue roll. And it kind of kept everything like hot and cool at the same time. evenly cooked. Well, well done.
Host 1 08:05
So another quick question about your background that I'm curious about. You said that you have a BA in finance and you got a master's in mechanical engineering. Did you go from finance directly to mechanical engineering? Or was there something else involved in it?
Host 1 08:22
Yeah, I was. No, I went straight. Like this semester after I graduated from finance. I went into engineering. It was painful. To say the least. That very, very painful. But yeah, I went to University of South Dakota for finance and about my junior year. I. Well, my junior year, I came down to NASA to work as an intern. But in the I was in the education department in the business department as well. And really working down there. I was like, Man, I'm kind of a nerd. I like this engineering stuff. I think I need to do this engineering stuff. And I'm, I was far enough along with business where that I decided to finish it. And so I finished it, and immediately went back to school for Engineering at Texas a&m. And so I started off I call myself the fifth year freshman when I started off because I was like literally starting a brand new but it was my fifth year of
Host 1 09:32
College. Wow. What did you specialize in for your masters?
Host 1 09:40
Heat transfer. Okay, so I was Yeah. And that's what I do right now. You transfer. Very cool. Yeah. Yeah, it was a long road. Because I took like, three, four years of undergrad classes and then I took a shot and applied to a master's program and they they let me in. They took me,
Host 1 10:06
I just noticed that as being odd you don't normally see not having the bachelors and then just jumping headfirst into the masters.
Host 1 10:14
Yeah, everybody gets an engineering like, Oh, screw this, I'm out and goes out of business. It was a lonely road.
Host 1 10:27
All right, well, let's move on to retro bright, which is a product that you have designed, or developed, I guess. Would you like to give us just what's an overview of retro break?
Host 1 10:42
Yeah, so retro Brite is it's a product that restores plastics back to their original color, yellow plastics back to their original color. And so there's a lot of, say, homebrew types of recipes out there and what, how to make your own retro Brite. And how to use it as well. And a lot of different types of, of retro burning processes you can go to, and what I decided to do a couple of years ago was make my own formula, a stable formula in and we just switched over to this spray bottle to make it a little bit easier to apply. But yeah, Mater mineral formula, and to restore yellow plastics, that's, that's what it is. So the active ingredient in it is hydrogen peroxide, it's hydrogen peroxide base, there's several other ways you can go about making these retro break formulas. And you spray it on, you put it out in the sun, that hydrogen peroxide breaks down, which we'll talk about here in a little while, but it breaks down and causes that yellow plastic to turn back to its original color. So you don't have to look at your, your yellowed Sega, Dreamcast or yellow Gameboy anymore. So yeah, this is a it's a product that you don't have to buy five different types of chemicals and mix them all together. It's just convenient spray bottle now. So that's the summary of it.
Host 1 12:36
So it applies to, I guess, what kinds of plastics is this? Just like ancient video game consoles? Or toys? Or what all can this be used on?
Host 1 12:47
Yeah, that's a really good, that's a really good question. So the primary use I would say is, is Yeah, your video game consoles, computer parts. I've got an old speaker here that this is one of my original you can see some of the before and after it might not show too clearly. So there's a bit before and then the after. This is one that I had in our house. There really got me curious about this retrograde process in the first place. But yeah, toys. There's actually mobile home showers is a big market for this. Mobile. Home showers are the same kind of plastics that are used in computer a lot of computer parts which is ABS and those turn yellow. And so I've got a lot of interest in people instead of having to tear out their shower and spend three or $5,000 putting in a new shower. They can use this and it does restore it back. Also, Jacuzzi jets is another interesting area so the the tub of a Jacuzzi is usually in place the inside ones are white, but the Jets end up turning is nice off off yellow color but the retro bright can take it back to its original color.
Host 1 14:20
It's almost like it's tobacco stained in a way.
Host 1 14:23
Yeah, it's like you've been smoking in there for a long time. It's all the walls that NASA or that color. And that's what we joke about is they used to be white but back in the 60s Everybody smoked there's so much that they've all turned yellow now.
Host 2 14:38
Don't touch the walls.
Host 1 14:41
Don't judge the walls. That's wrong. So yeah, there's a lot of different different other plastics. It can work on it. What it doesn't work on is typically like Alexa and or acrylic, your headlights. That's that's a big area that it doesn't work on. I'm in your headlights. It's interesting if you if you look at headlights on an older car that the headlights are really yellowed. And you look at the back of the car, the back of the headlight back, headlights will be fine. They'll be nice and look nice and polished. But the front of them are very yellowed. And it's more of a, from the, from the wind and the rocks and particles at the front of the car heads. It's more of an erosion process that causes that to yellow. Instead of just some lighter, like light beams from the
Host 2 15:36
Grayish UV debt group. gation.
Host 1 15:39
The aggregate Yeah, big Dacian Yeah,
Host 2 15:43
I'm not the only one that has problem with that word. It's a big it's harder for us that went up public college in Texas.
Host 1 15:55
You should have went to what was your idea of receiving? I think your idea. And the last one was the Joe
Host 1 16:02
Oh, the college college of average Joe's College of average Joe's? That's right. Yeah, I should take their spelling is just a class.
Host 1 16:13
So yeah, anyway, the, it doesn't work on acrylics or lexan. The for car headlights, you need to really do it, well you need to do and like an abrasive polish on that. I do have a list on our website or websites, retro dash bright.com. And that break is br I T E. I've done a list of of plastics, common plastics, other typical uses and if retro Brite will work on it or won't work on it. So that's available out there. And I'm always looking to expand that list. So if anybody has any feedback on on that list, let me know. Because I want to keep that up to date and expand the the body of knowledge about around retro writing. Also, on our website, I have a list of kind of instructions on how to find out what type of plastic you have a few curious if Richard Wright will work on it or not. And there's several different ways you can determine the type of plastic you'd have. There's, I think of it as non destructive methods and then destructive methods. The non destructive methods are you can do like a float test. So you put a piece of plastic in a bucket of water and you see if it floats or sinks, it kind of the method isn't the best because you your only breaking your product or your plastic into one of two groups. And then you can the easiest method is just the look on the bottom bottom of like your plastic and it's got this little recycle number on there. And you can compare that to short. And then they're just more destructive methods are bending or breaking test. So you can just take a little sample and see if it bends or breaks. And then the real cool method is the flame test where you take a piece of it and light it on fire. And you can tell what type of plastic it is by like the center of the flame the color of the flame if it drips molten plastic pieces off from the flame from the plastic itself or not. So yeah,
Host 2 18:41
So So how did a accountant turn mechanical engineer that works for NASA doing thermal management. Get into restoring plastics.
Host 1 18:55
Yeah. I wonder that sometimes now
Host 2 19:00
When you take as I was saying that I'm like, Oh, totally makes sense, though.
Host 1 19:09
So so it's, the story is kind of long, but it started in it actually started in 1989. And I was about four years old and I remember getting my uncle sent me a toy spatial. And I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. I love the space shuttle. I still do we're gonna have some. And I kept the toys that kept this toy shuttle. All along. I packed it in a box of course when I went off to college and it wasn't until a few years ago when my my parents they moved moved homes and they're like here take all your stuff. And I guess they come down with all these, these all these boxes, and I'm going through them and I find my old space shuttle that I absolutely love. But it's all yellow. And I was like, just thinking like, how can I make up kind of like to fix things up. And just was looking around for different methods on how to how to how to fix it up. And I came across this method of people using hydrogen peroxide to restore their yellow plastic. And so I gave it a whirl. And it worked. It was a really confusing process, though on and there's a million different ways to go about doing it. Some people use really high strength hydrogen peroxide. I've seen people use like chlorine gas, which I don't recommend to that store these dangerous. Yeah, yeah, it's not the best, it's not the best. There's some other ones. There's one I saw the other day somebody used on Twitter was using chlorine. I wrote this down because I wanted to mention it here because it's ridiculous. They use chlorine trifluoride, which is, I didn't know anything about this until I saw this post. But basically, it sets fire sets on contact with glass, rust, concrete. And asbestos, which is another thing like asbestos is supposed to prevent fire. But when these things come in contact, they just explode into fire. So I can only imagine what it does to your, your Gameboy when you drop it in there.
Host 2 21:45
Just imagine like where do you get that at?
Host 1 21:49
That's, that's, that's one of those chemicals that you have to store in a very specific bottle. Like, I can't remember what it was, but one of the most corrosive chemicals has to be stored in I don't know, it's kind of like fluorine bottle, because it'll eat anything that you put it in other than this. And it sounds on its way towards a chemical like that.
Host 1 22:10
Yeah, that's, that's funny. You mention that, because I watched a video about about this. And they were saying it can be stored in a metal container. But it has to be treated with floor flooring, right, which is perfectly inert. And then even that, like I'm not going to trust for us a little layer of fluorine to me, there's like no way I'm storing that at my house. So anyway, I'm imagine that person's either dead or working on dying.
Host 2 22:44
Last Post 2016
Host 1 22:46
These are some pretty extreme measures to get to re or get yellow off of your your plastic.
Host 1 22:53
Yeah, yeah. So yeah. Going back to your question, Parker. That was an old spatial toy that I had around here that I kept for a long time that I just was curious. And curious. curiosity led me down one path led me down another path led me down another path. And now I'm Yeah, making retro bright.
Host 2 23:17
Yeah, so what made that jump from? Yeah, I combined some chemicals that I found that like Ace Hardware store, and like, Walgreens, and then I'm like, Oh, I can sell this now. Yeah, where's that gas there?
Host 1 23:35
That's like, that's the idea tank podcast the way but like taking a little one step farther, instead of giving it away, I thought it was a really good idea I really like its ease of use, relatively easy, easy to use, you do have to go through a couple of steps to do it. But instead of going out and finding all the different types of chemicals and chemicals, chemicals to make your own retro bright to some people have exposure to UV light, as well. And we're doing doing a little work and determining what the best UV light to use is and what what wavelength to use is but really like wanting to help people do this because I know that a lot of people have toys out there. As I was telling people about what I was doing. They were really interested in it as well. And really wanted to help people come up with an easy way to restore their old toys and you can make make all things new. It's easy, it's easy solution to restoring restoring your plastic and take some of it takes the guesswork out of it because nothing's I kind of don't don't like going into a project and not really, especially with it. When you only have one thing, and you're not making something brand new, when you have this toy, that you don't want anything to happen to it, you want to know, when you apply this weird chemical to it that it's going to be okay at the end, you're not going to like destroy it and it's not going to burn. You're not going to treat it with your chlorine trifluoride and
Host 2 25:19
Mediately burst into flames. With you.
Host 1 25:23
Yes. Yeah. So that's kind of how I made made the jump is just wanting to help people. And with like the idea tank podcast, I have a kind of an entrepreneurial background on the business side of things. And so just decided to make that leap.
Host 1 25:43
So what exactly is yellowing? And what causes it? And why is it something that we want to get rid of?
Host 1 25:53
Yeah, so the kind of the short answer is that the plastics yellow because of this things called chromophores. And in every plastic, some plastics have less of them, some have more. But there's chromophores have, they call them pi bonds and some pipe, we're gonna get really nerdy here. Chemical Engineering, not too not too much, just just enough, though. But um, the the chromophore. In this pi bonds are the area of the molecule and the plastic, that's a chain that is responsible for giving plastic its color. And over time, those chromophores break down. And they break down for a variety of different reasons, but they change the color the wavelength of light that we see. So they absorb more, more light in different wavelengths and reflect more in in the yellow wavelengths. So that we, that's what we see. And so that's the that's a short answer on why plastic clo is chromophores. And going a little bit deeper here. And by the way, this is I've written several blog posts on our website that you can go to, to read more about this, and people are welcome to do that. But those, the way that those chromophores change typically happens in our in our own homes through light through light exposure and oxygen exposure. It also can happen through heat. So like in your car, like we have a plastic toilet seat in our car for our kids. And that thing, yellows so darn quick. Because summertime in Houston, that's just going to degrade faster. So you can also degrade your plastic through just mechanical action was stressing sheer biodegradation, like fungus, fungus, fungi, bacteria in your shower, I've got some plastic parts in your shower that like it kind of turned pink from certain bacteria that are in your shower. And then there's chemical degradation. Dead there's that word degradation from acids bases, I should have went to school of average Joe's from acid bases, solvents. And so that's that's a mechanism of what's actually causing it to, to yellow. And so going a little bit once one layer deeper, in terms of what's actually going on in the plastic, there's three different phases, or three different steps that that happen within the plastic, there's an initiation phase, a propagation phase and a termination phase. So in that initiation phase, that plastic is exposed to the light or heat or those things that I mentioned before, and there's radicals that are formed. Those radicals that are are want to react with things around them. And they wrapped with other compounds in the plastic and specifically some of those chromophores and those pi bonds. In the second step is at propagation, and that's where those radicals react with those things. And the third step is determination. And that's when that red radicals fully reacted with with those pi bonds in the chromophores and its state Apple, I'm using air quotes here, big air quotes, but it's stable. Again, and it's kind of an ongoing process, as well. And from the research we've done, there's a couple of really good resources. One of them is the it's the handbook of photo deck, Handbook of plastic deck degradation, the the other resources, photo degradation and photo stabilization of polymers. So those two sources of pull a lot of information from but it's really a surface phenomenon on the surface of the plastic.
Host 1 30:42
And that propagates down through time. So that's, that's probably all you would ever want to know about photo degradation in why plastics turn yellow. It, I'm kind of, I'm kind of summarizing, here and in very broad strokes, because polymer science is a very, like, it's a very complicated topic, like people spend years in college just study studying, getting their PhDs like in just one type of plastic. And I've kind of written up these articles too, on just general principles on how this yellowing happens, every plastic might be a little bit different, but they can generally be be grouped into those categories. In this in this process.
Host 1 31:47
So when when, when a chromophore degrades, what is actually happening? Are bonds being changed? Or are they broken?
Host 1 31:58
Yeah, but bonds are being changed. And let me so this is from that photo degradation and photos, a photo stabilization of polymers. It states that it's due to the formation of conjugated double bonds or other types of chromophoric groups. So there's, typically you don't have those bonds in your plastic. And those bonds are created as it breaks down. And that's causes the yellowing.
Host 1 32:36
So does the polymer change or polymer chain actually change physical size? Like what? What is causing the MEK? What's the mechanism that makes it change color in terms of which, like, which direction? Does it go in terms of coloring? Is that due to the length of a polymer chain, and the way light is reflected off of it?
Host 1 32:57
Can you say that again?
Host 1 33:00
I guess is the part that I'm confused about. And this is just me, not knowing much, if anything about chemistry, but what what about changing the bonds of this actually cause it to change its color?
Host 1 33:14
Okay, yeah, I see what you're saying. So it's the what was let me repeat your question. It's about the what's, uh, why does it turn specifically yellow? Is that what you're asking?
Host 1 33:31
Well, I guess. Okay, so what's going through my mind what this is, okay, so a lot of retro Brite applies to a lot of plastics that are like white and gray, and they kind of turn yellow. But wouldn't this also apply to other colors that shift into other colors at this? And what is the mechanism that's actually causing that? I mean, obviously, it's these chromophores breaking down, but I guess, I guess I'm getting more to like the physical side. I'm curious about what causes the color change itself? Does the polymer the molecule change physical size? And that reflects light differently? Or do you know what the mechanism is?
Host 1 34:06
I see what you're saying. So yeah, I see what you're saying. So, yeah, think of it. So the white light is all the colors of the light. So the the light that we see like this blue shirt that I'm wearing right now, it absorbs all the colors of light except the except blue and it reflects that. So within within the plastics, those chromophores are are basically absorbing everything except that yellow light, and that's what we see. And what's what's getting reflected back. So it isn't changing the size, essentially the size of the molecule. With those, it's typically a double or triple bond that happens within those pi bonds that causes that to yellow and it works. I've seen plus colored plastics turn yellow as well. And same thing with with that. And then there is another thing specifically with bromine, you might have come across articles about, there's a lot out there about does bromine cause yellowing? And it's my answer to that question is maybe there's some people that are like, yes, slam dunk it is. And some people are no like that myth is totally busted. I'm from the standpoint of possibly possibly, bromine is added to a lot of plastics to prevent fire. fire from spreading in the plastic or suppress the firing. Sorry, just suppress the fire or act as a fire retardant within the plastic itself
Host 2 35:57
To degradation the fire it's a fire suppression compound. Your molecule? Yes. In this case. Yeah. And so that's, that's, yeah, that's when Oh, is it yellow?
Host 1 36:14
Yeah, it's definitely yellow. It's like, okay, real, real dark yellow.
Host 2 36:19
Like I when I was, I can't remember how when this was, but when I was looking into this kind of restoration of plastics, yellow into plastics. That was the that was the current Internet argument was if this fire retardant material was causing the yellowing or not. And it was if I think it was not really just that but it was if using these comp are these chemicals to basically restore the color? Was that actually like ripping out the bromine out of the plastic? And like making the plastic brittle and stuff like that? That was that was the debate back in? Yeah, this has to be like 10 years ago at this point. Yeah, I tried to.
Host 1 37:13
That's a good, that's a good question. I'm glad you brought that up. That's something that we're looking at doing is you know, in strong machines are there like you put you put these big dog bones in they kind of look like a dog bone. But small, and this machine just pulls pulls the plastic apart. And then there's other machines that that bend the plastic and what I'm looking at doing is getting some some plastics that are yellowed, using retro bright on some of them, keeping some as control and then doing some of the Inspiron tests way pull them and bend them, break them to see if that like is it retro bright, actually hurting it? From my initial guess on that my initial thoughts this is that it isn't. Doesn't hurt hurt, especially in comparison to the years of light hitting it. Like that probably going to be your most most significant source of degradation, degradation. And in the plastic.
Host 2 38:22
Yeah, I think that's what it boiled down to that as well. But it would be nice to finally like, close that chapter of my life. Yeah,
Host 1 38:30
I'm sorry. I'm not going to provide closure. Do you hear?
Host 1 38:36
The debate rages on?
Host 1 38:38
It does, it does. And part of the reason why mentioned a couple of sources from the handbook of polymer degradation. They did a lot of experiments in there of of using multiple types of these bromine fire retardants. BFR is calm. And it's not like they're just adding bromine into their pot of plastic. As they're mixing it up. There's several different types of these VFRs that they put in the bromine via retarders. And it goes back to the polymer science, it's very complicated. And in this in that handbook, they they do some experiments where they add add these retarder is retarders into certain set of plastics and some of them change colors and yellow and some of them build and various for every different type of plastic to and there's more more about that are on our website. But basically, you can't really conclude and do a blanket statement that yes, it bromine is a problem or mo bromine as it goes back to polymer science is really complicated and ever Everything, every plastic is unique. Every one of those BFR is is unique. And it's kind of a case by case basis. But what I'm trying to find out is, what is it the primary abs? Fire retarder used, and specifically used for different products as well. Something too interesting that that may might have noticed with something, some of your computer parts is you can have like, a piece of hardware like this, that there's two two pieces of plastic that are that are joined up. They're definitely made independently of one another, but they're mechanically joined together. And like one of them completely yellows, and the other one doesn't yellow at all. And like, whenever I see them, like, what's going on there?
Host 1 40:48
That's classic with the
Host 1 40:51
What didn't what is use that plastic for everything.
Host 2 40:55
Different contractors, the
Host 1 40:57
Host 1 40:58
The Super Nintendo, Super Nintendo is the top portion will yellow like crazy. And the bottom does not.
Host 1 41:05
Well, yeah, different contractors, different VFR is. So yeah, that's all you ever wanted to know about. Why plastic, plastic clo I'm sorry, I can't provide you closure. Parker
Host 2 41:23
Was I was looking forward to it. So let's go into so how does how do you? How does much right work in this regard in removing the yellowing enact? And while you're explaining I'm actually going to find my Super Nintendo and see that actually has that split color.
Host 1 41:43
Awesome. Awesome. So yeah. The short, short answer on how wretched BrightWorks is. It's hydrogen peroxide in there. And that's the the kind of a hand wavy answer just uses hydrogen peroxide, and it changes those chromophores back to its original color. That's all. It's not the droids you're looking for. Thank you. So go into going into it a little bit more. It's you got it. There it is. That's the nutshell. Yeah,
Host 2 42:15
I have the split color. And it's not UV. Because this has been in that cabinet. I put it in there. It was all this color. And I just pulled it out. And now it's that top portion is yellow. Yeah. And actually look how yellow. Well, it's kind of hard because the camera is white balancing it. But if you compare that There you go. Yep. How yellow this? This is a superscope adapter. Oh, man. It's super yellow.
Host 1 42:45
So yeah, that's that's a you don't need light to turn it yellow can just oxidize by itself just through oxygen environment. But anyway, getting back to how retro Brite works. It the magic word is oxidation potential. And so oxidation potential basically represents the amount of energy that's required to lose or gain electrons from from a chemical. And so there's all kinds of oxidants out there. Hydrogen peroxide is one of them. And ozone is another one one of them. And I'm looking at a chart on on our website that has a good list of them. Chlorine gas is one of them. There's
Host 2 43:42
So that's why some people were trying to use it.
Host 1 43:45
Yeah, so sodium hypochlorite is another one or sodium percarbonate mentioned ozone. But hydrogen peroxide, sodium carbonate and ozone are probably the top three oxidation potential chemicals that people use for retro writing or that I've seen. We also have that one guy that uses that chlorine trifluoride that's out there. But yes, I'm gonna pick on him forever. So the hydrogen peroxide, the chemical formula, I'm gonna go I'm going to chemical chemical engineering on you have now the the chemical formula for hydrogen peroxide is h 202. When you expose hydrogen peroxide to lighter heat, it breaks down into the h2o sort of water, and then there's a free oxygen module module molecule. And that molecule is really unstable and it either it forms other free oxygen molecules, too. form oh two, which we know is oxygen gas. And then ozone, similarly is oh three by itself, but that's pretty unstable. And that breaks down into eventually just oxygen gas. But when it breaks down, it's oh two and a free radical surgeon. And then sodium percarbonate. That's another common one. It's, that's what oxy cleans active ingredient ingredient. And that's commonly known as solid hydrogen peroxide, because when you add water to it, it breaks that sodium percarbonate down into soda, Ash and water. And that hydrogen peroxide breaks down further into water and free oxygen molecule. So all those oxygen oxidants that I mentioned, they have a electrochemical potential that's measured in volts. And the higher the volts, the more the more air quotes, powerful it is. One of the top ones on here already the top for the free radical, which is an O H, O H group is 2.8 volts, ozone atom is 2.42 volts, ozone is 2.07. And then hydrogen peroxide is 1.78. And so it's a fairly powerful oxidant. It's not the most powerful out there. But it's hydrogen peroxide, something that's easy, readily attainable, you don't have the concerns with using ozone. out there. And so that's why that's part of the reason why we use hydrogen peroxide in our, in our our mixture. But going a little bit deeper part of the process of using retro Brite is we apply it this hydrogen peroxide and then we set it up in the sun to make to break down that hydrogen peroxide. Because hydrogen peroxide breaks down in light and heat and you kind of get the benefit of both light and heat when you set it up into the sun. And basically you get more free radicals and get more of those oxygen bonds as you break down your hydrogen peroxide. And so you get more more oxidation potential. And so what actually goes on in your plastic as, as the free radicals that accidents, as as accidents work in a truth plastic is basically goes through that nother process of degradation where there's new bike pythons are created and the chromophores are destroyed. And the plastic goes back to its original colors because it destroys those the new chromophore chromophores that have been created through that for further degradation. And again, it's kind of hand wavy, because it's very each plastic is unique. It's it's
Host 2 48:49
Like is it going to go back and reform the chromophores the same way? What's Uh oh, as I'm saying is slow, like, because you're initiating another chain reaction to hopefully make the chromophores go back to the molecule shape that used to be
Host 1 49:09
That's right. Yeah. Yeah.
Host 1 49:13
So then can yellow again
Host 1 49:16
Yes, that's, that's a that's a trick that we're working on right now. Is it does it can go back to yellowing, it's a process that kind of never ends but we're, we're working right now. And basically, I think of it as a sunblock for your your plastic spray that you can a UV protectant that you can apply it's specifically formulated for electronics that you can apply and it basically acts like a sunblock for your your computer
Host 1 49:51
I'm curious if you have if so, a lot of our a lot of our listeners are designers and deal with plastics um, Curious, your thoughts? Or if you know any ways to combat yellowing before it even begins? In other words, like when you're when you're initially injecting plastics, are there some too? Are there? Like is ABS something to avoid? If you want to worry? If you are worried about yellowing? Like, do you have any thoughts on that?
Host 1 50:20
Yeah, so I would reach out to the person that you are working with, and ask them what type of plastic you're using and what additives are going into the, to the plastic, specifically, if there's any fire retardant is going in there. And cross reference that with I go to that handbook of plastic Handbook of polymer degradation. And take a look at that. And see if there's been any reference, if there's any reference to the plastic that that person is using and the, the, the fire retardant that they're they're using. It's almost impossible to know, out also, it's almost impossible to know. But there's things you can do to do some due diligence to determine if you're going to come up with a good a good product or not,
Host 2 51:17
Make sure you're not going to be using a known bad
Host 1 51:21
Write, write and ask them to if they have have done any testing on the photo degradation or oxidation of the plastic itself. A good company would have done that.
Host 1 51:41
I'm curious now, if NASA has documents about yellowing plastics?
Host 1 51:46
Oh, I'm sure they do. I'm sure they do.
Host 2 51:50
You know, I was actually thinking, going back to the Super Nintendo. That is, it's because usually the top is yellow, and the bottom is not. And we know it's not, it's usually not caused by UV. So it's not like sun is not hitting the bottom. Basically, I wonder if the bottom has different additives that might make it more this is what I'm thinking is like a kid is like using it, the bottom is going to take more impact, like dropping it being slammed against like a corner on like a entertainment center and that kind of stuff. So I wonder if that's what it is. It's got a different combination of of polymers in it, where it still says, you know, ABS, but it's special blend. That's why it's that way why that certain product is so prolific isn't to be that way, yellow wood that way?
Host 1 52:52
Yeah, it could be it could be a totally different plastic on there. It could be a batch, something that I didn't talk about, but in order for it to go through the photo degradation process. It has to has have impurities in it. There's
Host 2 53:15
Internal securities, so I just grabbed his snus.
Host 1 53:20
Yeah, this is the this is the show until Super Nintendo. What's interesting is I bought mine brand new in 1996. And it does not have yellowing on the top or bottom. Wow. Now I know this was late in the I bought this just before Christmas of 1996. So the the Nintendo 64 was just about to come out. So this was a very late model.
Host 1 53:45
They probably figured out by then. I think so. Interesting. Do you know what your yours was Parker?
Host 2 53:55
No, actually, sorry to interrupt. Scott. Keep going?
Host 1 53:59
Yeah. Oh, so I'm jumping back to the. So hopefully, Steven, they probably figured out what your what was going on with your plastic. But there's also internal impurities and external impurities that can be in just your batch of plastic that you're mixing up. There's things like traces of solvents, pollution from the atmosphere. nap and ethylene poly United's and there there's pigments, dyes and thermal stabilizers, photo stabilizers that can go on there. And trace metals have traces of metals and metal oxides that can go into your batch of plastic that you don't really intend for them to be in there. But just because of the environment you're working in, they may be added in and that might that might lead to yellow plastic. So it could be a plastic change or it could be a process change when they're mixing up the plastic or they got good American plastic instead of cheap Chinese plastic.
Host 1 55:10
Straight from the golf jet Japanese plastic
Host 2 55:18
I do not know what year mine is. Because I bought mine used. Okay. It does say the bottom just says abs and the bottom does have a serial number but I did a quick Google search and there's not really a enter serial number get year for Super Nintendo is it seems
Host 1 55:37
There shouldn't be yeah, there's one of the things about retro bright too, it's
Host 1 55:53
Some people wonder if it's a bleaching process. And it really is a bleaching process. At the end of the day. Clorox uses a sodium hypochlorite as its active oxidation oxidant with within bleach, but it's way diluted down. It's only like four to 6%, sodium hypochlorite, and bleach. But it works essentially the same way as a bleaching agent. You couldn't you couldn't use retro bright to blue, bleach your clothes. And don't recommend it. And that's another thing with this, if you get it on your clothes. You You don't need to like worry about bleaching your clothes right away, it washes off and you'll be fine. But yeah, it's just it's like bleach very plastic kind of works essentially the same way just with different chemicals.
Host 1 56:56
And is it like one application? Or does it help to do multiple? Or does it just depend on the severity?
Host 1 57:04
Yeah, it depends on the severity. And the amount of heat or light you can get to it. The more heat let you get to it, the better. I know some people have done it inside, inside without any UV light. And it takes that one guy did it in about 24 hours. Turn back and that's applying it multiple times. And then if it's outside, you have four hours, you might be back. Back to good. Back to nice and yellow vests and white plastic. So it just depends. You can apply it as many times as you want. A couple of things about applying it, you want to make sure you've got a good code on it. And then as you as it's outside, you may want to turn it just to make sure all it's getting your sunrays all over the place on the on the piece of plastic, and then also kind of massage the retro bright around to make sure it's kind of evenly distributed in areas. And that's what the the spray bottle really helps with is once you haven't covered up this sprain in there instead of brushing it on over and over again.
Host 1 58:27
Is it is it pretty thin or viscous or does it like clean?
Host 1 58:33
Yeah, it cleans. It's a it's a gel. Okay? It's not a super. You're not going to take a club event. It's just going to sit there it will run on you, but it's going to be a little goofy.
Host 1 58:52
Here's a question from our chat. Did you make a concentrated version of retro Brite and would it work any faster?
Host 1 59:01
You could so or retro bright is around 8% 7% You could make a you know a 30% 40% 100% hydrogen peroxide solution. The thing that you're going to end up challenging with is making sure that that's stable because you want to hydrogen peroxide just by itself is not stable. We've added stabilizers and so it's can be shelf stable. As you get higher and higher concentration it's you can't get it stable but it's harder and harder to and the other thing too is you can over bleach your your plastic as well and get it to too good where it's a little too too white
Host 2 59:59
And It doesn't shift more the other direction,
Host 1 1:00:02
Right? It doesn't match the original color and just kind of looks weird. And we think with our formula, we've kind of struck a good balance between being able to do it fairly quickly and not having to deal with all the baggage that comes with higher end and the safety hazards that are associated with higher higher concentrations of peroxide 100% Hydrogen peroxide is can be used as a rocket fuel, best as an oxidizer. So if you want to go that far,
Host 1 1:00:40
Just you might go to NASA and pick up the fluoride guy.
Host 2 1:00:48
So, Scott, where can people find Rachel brights? Where can I order it from?
Host 1 1:00:56
Yeah, um, you can buy it a couple different ways. We're on Amazon, eBay. And then we also have a website. That's the retro WWW dot retro dash, b r i t e bright.com. You can buy it there. And if you guys enter, save 25 You can get 25% off your order for listening to this podcast.
Host 1 1:01:29
Hey, cool. Also go check out the blog. There's some really cool posts that kind of cover all that we said here plus some. And also I think you've also had other chats about this too and gotten into things. I think I saw something on YouTube about this. So I think that's up on your blog, I believe. If not Well, yeah.
Host 1 1:01:48
There's a lot of retro great videos out there Yeah,
Host 1 1:01:56
Very cool. All right. Well,
Host 2 1:01:59
Thank you so much, Scott for coming on our podcast and talking to us about retro Brighton, the chemicals behind the chemistry behind how it works and how plastics segregate.
Host 1 1:02:15
It's wonderful being on thank you for letting me come on here for a fourth time. I guess I haven't screwed anything up quite yet.
Host 2 1:02:23
We'll have to have your back on in the fall for another idea fab as well because that's it's always a blast.
Host 1 1:02:30
We've got ideas
Host 1 1:02:34
All right. Well, that was the macro fab engineering podcast. We were your host Stephen Craig and Parker Dolman take it easy
Host 2 1:02:43
Host 2 1:02:53
Thank you yes, you our listener for downloading our podcasts if you have a cool idea project or topic let Stephen I know. Tweet us at Mac Feb at Longhorn engineer or at analog E and G or emails at podcasts at Mac fab.com. And remember, you can get Scott's retro bright at retro hyphen bright that's br ite e.com And also check out our Slack channel. You can find it at Mac fab.com/slack or check out our live stream at twitch.tv/macro Fab
Transcribed by https://otter.ai