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Jay Leno Demonstrates Ultrasonic Cleaner

In a 2009 article and video on the Popular Mechanics web site, “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno demonstrates how to use an ultrasonic cleaner to remove rust from tools. Leno, a long-time auto enthusiast and car collector, has his own garage where he rebuilds and restores classic automobiles. The video, titled “Jay’s Green Garage”, stresses how the ultrasonic cleaner made the process of removing rust and other contaminants much safer for the environment than previous methods.

Jay Leno Image In the video, Leno remarks on how mechanics would previously use dangerous chemicals to clean auto parts. The use of such toxic substances would require those who handled them to wear protective equipment such as gloves to preserve their skin and masks to keep out noxious fumes. In addition to the potential dangers, the cleaning process was also often time-consuming, in that it required users to reach inside the tiny crevices of some parts with cloths or wire brushes.

Frank Pedelflous, a representative from ultrasonic cleaner manufacturer Omegasonics, explains some of the more technical aspects of ultrasonic cleaners to Leno and the audience. Pedelflous calls the method behind the ultrasonic cleaner “a stereo system and water”. He states that the machine works in much the same way as a stereo amplifier. The transducers within the machine create high-frequency sound waves, which create “millions of vacuum bubbles a second.”

These “millions of vacuum bubbles” produce an effect known as “cavitation”. When the bubbles burst against the contaminated surfaces, the liquid released from the implosion sprays the metal surfaces and removes the bonds that bonded the rust, dirt and oil to those surfaces. The bubbles can also reach into the small holes and crevices that hand tools cannot reach, making for a much more effective and thorough cleaning process.

“We're not really shaking it,” Pedelflous explains. “We're actually creating a vacuum bubble and it has a vortex released that's sucking the dirt off the part.”

Leno and Pedelflous also demonstrate how safe ultrasonic cleaners are to those who work around them. Leno dips his hand into the soapy water as the ultrasonic cleaner was running. Other than a noticeable warming of thee water/detergent solution, he did not experience any side effects from exposure to the machine. In previous eras, no mechanic would ever handle the caustic cleaning chemicals without gloves, as these substances often cause serious burns and skin irritation. (Editor’s note: iUltrasonic does not recommend putting any part of your body into an ultrasonic cleaner while it is operating.)

The two men also remark on the effectiveness of the ultrasonic cleaner. Leno notes how the cleaner is “pulling the rust right off” an old, rust-coated tool. In less than five minutes, much of the rust on the outside of the tool has dissolved off into the soapy water.

Leno also notes the similarities between the ultrasonic cleaner demonstrated in the garage and the small tabletop cleaner his wife uses as a jewelry cleaner.

“Just tell your wife, honey, it's a giant jewelry cleaner. You'll never have to polish silver again if we can get this for the garage.”

At the end of the video, Leno states that, “cleaning with ultra high frequency sound waves …it's the future.” In 2009, it may have been considered “the future”. In 2012, it’s a major part of the present.


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