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  1. #1
    la vache fantôme phantomcow2's Avatar
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    What exactly IS the juice inside a capacitor?

    For fun, about 1 year ago, I crushed a capacitor off a junked circuit board in a vise. There was a small amount of some type of juice or oil that came out.

    Then, looking inside my mom's ATX power supply, I found the capacitor had burst. I found brown fluid inside the power supply, which I assumed to be from capacitor.

    What is this stuff? And, what is the purpose? I thought a capacitor was two plates of conductive material with a dielectric between, creating the electric field. What purpose would fluid have?
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  2. #2
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomcow2
    For fun, about 1 year ago, I crushed a capacitor off a junked circuit board in a vise. There was a small amount of some type of juice or oil that came out.

    Then, looking inside my mom's ATX power supply, I found the capacitor had burst. I found brown fluid inside the power supply, which I assumed to be from capacitor.

    What is this stuff? And, what is the purpose? I thought a capacitor was two plates of conductive material with a dielectric between, creating the electric field. What purpose would fluid have?
    combination heat sink and dielectric fluid?
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Really old capacitors were mostly foil and wax paper, but they've long since moved from paper to fluid dielectrics. Be careful with the old ones, the brown goop is likely to have PCBs and dioxins in it. Same with fluorescent light ballasts, they're filled with toxic brown goop, too.

  4. #4
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Right, it's the dielectric fluid...basically an insulator that interferes with the electric field, which actually means the capacitor can store more energy.

    Oh, and mind Stacey's warning about toxic brown goops. I'm not sure if there is a good way to determine if a certain capacitor is safe or not, unless it happens to be RoHS certified...but I'm not even sure what all that covers.
    Last edited by iamlucky13; 11-04-06 at 09:33 PM.
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  5. #5
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    Oil?

  6. #6
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13
    Right, it's the dielectric fluid...basically an insulator that interferes with the electric field, which actually means the capacitor can store more energy.

    Oh, and mind Stacey's warning about toxic brown goops. I'm not sure if there is a good way to determine if a certain capacitor is safe or not, unless it happens to be RoHS certified...but I'm not even sure what all that covers.
    What's Stacey got to do with it???


  7. #7
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya
    What's Stacey got to do with it???

    Toxic Brown Goop and Stacey have always been synonymous. Rats love toxic brown goop,it gives them turtles to teach ninja moves to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  8. #8
    New! With Self Loathing! scottmorrison99's Avatar
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    Dunno what it is, but it tastes awful.

  9. #9
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr
    Toxic Brown Goop and Stacey have always been synonymous. Rats love toxic brown goop,it gives them turtles to teach ninja moves to.
    Ba da ching!

  10. #10
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacey
    Ba da ching!
    I knew that you would take that in the spirit that it was intended! I like the newer, freer, red starred Stacey!
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  11. #11
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottmorrison99
    ...it tastes awful...
    We need an opinion from Mirona.

  12. #12
    (((Fully Awake))) Serendipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsharr
    I knew that you would take that in the spirit that it was intended! I like the newer, freer, red starred Stacey!
    It matches her pretty little beady red eyes!
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  13. #13
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipper
    It matches her pretty little beady red eyes!
    I like your animated sig!
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  14. #14
    Senior Member edp773's Avatar
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    It depends on the capacitor. The large capacitor in the power supply is an Electrolytic capacitor with electrolyte inside. Most of the smaller capacitors have the dielectric fluid. A new chemical made out of vegetable oil is soon to be used.
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  15. #15
    Evil Genius capsicum's Avatar
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    Vegetable or mineral origin does not make much difference to the toxicity, the additives and exact structure of the oil moecules are what matter, and those are determined by the properties required of the final material. You can drink many pure mineral base stocks, actually, without more harm than some digestive upset.
    "Data is not the plural form of annecdote."
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  16. #16
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    This thread so needs to be authenticated by Mirona.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  17. #17
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    After reading all the posts, I remembered that when I was in high-school they used to talk about oil while they were explaining about capacitance. Honestly, I don't really have a clue on what these might be but they are definitely not cooking oil. I think it depends upon the capacitor - probably each capacitor has a different dielectric substance inside. Do all the cap manufacturer use the same dielectric? I don't think so but I may be wrong. @scottmorrison99: Seriously? You even tested it? Dude, it might be toxic.

    pcb assembly prototype
    Last edited by sirnak; 08-06-13 at 01:29 PM.

  18. #18
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    You wouldn't want to mess with the stuff in the older capacitors - from the 70's or earlier. The fluids from newer ones, just don't eat it and don't burn it and you'll probably be ok.

  19. #19
    derailleurs are overrated bigbenaugust's Avatar
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    It's made from babies. And lead.
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  20. #20
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    Are zombies run on capacitors?
    Can capacitor juice be used as a mixer?
    When extracting the juice does one use a fruit juicer or is a vegetable juicer the preferred tool?

  21. #21
    You Know!? For Kids! jsharr's Avatar
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    I think they drain the fluid from old dredged up foo threads and use it to fill capacitors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorider View Post
    Phobias are for irrational fears. Fear of junk ripping badgers is perfectly rational. Those things are nasty.

  22. #22
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamlucky13 View Post
    Right, it's the dielectric fluid...basically an insulator that interferes with the electric field, which actually means the capacitor can store more energy.

    Oh, and mind Stacey's warning about toxic brown goops. I'm not sure if there is a good way to determine if a certain capacitor is safe or not, unless it happens to be RoHS certified...but I'm not even sure what all that covers.
    it doesn't interfere with the electric field, it just keeps the plates from touching.

  23. #23
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    Isn't it liquid flux?

  24. #24
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sirnak View Post
    After reading all the posts, I remembered that when I was in high-school they used to talk about oil while they were explaining about capacitance. Honestly, I don't really have a clue on what these might be but they are definitely not cooking oil. I think it depends upon the capacitor - probably each capacitor has a different dielectric substance inside. Do all the cap manufacturer use the same dielectric? I don't think so but I may be wrong. @scottmorrison99: Seriously? You even tested it? Dude, it might be toxic.
    Different caps have different materials... likely the OP is talking about larger Electrolytic caps typically found in power supplies... likely filled with a dielectric like silicon gel or polyester gel. Then there are COG, X5R and X7R caps that one can find all over circuit boards in any electronic device... and finally microwave caps that use ceramic materials to obtain higher "Q" at high frequencies.

    Capacitors operate by allowing a higher voltage potential to "accumulate" on the plates which are held from one another by some dielectric, even air. That "charge" can be used to form various wave forms or as a reservoir of power or as part of a filter network.

    (at this point you are either bored to tears, or interested in more.... for the latter, use google and consider an engineering degree... )

  25. #25
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Are zombies run on capacitors?
    Can capacitor juice be used as a mixer?
    When extracting the juice does one use a fruit juicer or is a vegetable juicer the preferred tool?
    Actually tiny tap handles put into place by tiny electronic trolls...

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