View Full Version : PN 55 Pod Chemical Analysis

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Mustafa Umut Sarac
04-07-2010, 08:33 PM
Ron and all friends ;

One of my friend is dying to learn the chemical content and the ratios of
Polaroid PN 55 Pod .

I advised him to find a lab near to Polaroid Factory and get experienced help.

3 questions rises :

1- Which lab is the most used one by the Polaroid 55 manufacturing factory ?

2- What kind of analysis necessary to reveal the correct identification of the chemicals and their content ?

3- Are these chemicals are still available for the experimenter ?

He is a purist like me and want the same thing so approximitations are not satisfying.

Thank you ,

Mustafa Umut Sarac


04-07-2010, 09:02 PM
While you're at it I'd like to know too.

Christopher Walrath
04-07-2010, 09:06 PM
Only one lab creating Polaroid materials and that's in Enschede, The Netherlands. So, buy a box from sleezebay for a song and your firstborn and have someone tear one of the pods apart and perform analysis. Or, just buy some and have fun, knowing it is in limited supply until The Impossible Project decides it is viable and profitable to make it themselves as they have some of the packfilms. Or, yeah, there's another. Email Impossible and see if they might have some materials/reference literature that they might be willing to share.

04-07-2010, 09:24 PM
I can do Raman, IR and UV-vis in my lab, that should nail down all the components. What's it worth to ya though? ;) I think if you just develop panatomic x in a monobath, you'll come extremely close.

David A. Goldfarb
04-07-2010, 09:30 PM
You can look up the patent to something that looks a lot like Type 55 and you can find a description of same in Haist's Monobath Manual if I recall correctly. It's been discussed on the forum before.

Try Adox 100 in a well-tuned monobath, and you'll come pretty close to the Type 55 neg too. I've posted that on the forum as well.

Mustafa Umut Sarac
04-07-2010, 09:56 PM
I look to the Enschede directory and could not locate any lab except pathology and ceramic research.

There are two universities very near to city center. May be they help but these are small countries and lots of neighbor countries also.

I will write to the factory at Enschede.

When US factories closed and is there anyone who knows US Factory 3th party laboratories ?

I had been found a lab at France which assist to Kodak.

Keith , may be you are the last chance if I could not locate the real thing.

My friend tried monobath on panatomic x if I am not wrong and he does not satisfy with the results

Thank you David , I know your excellent posts , but we want to know the real formula. Real final thing.

Kirk Keyes
04-08-2010, 10:35 AM
What's your budget? That will dictate how close you can get to the "real final thing".

It's a lot more work than just throwing some of the gel into a Raman, UV-Vis, or IR spectrophotometer. There's going to be elemental analysis with ICP or ICP-MS, some liquid or perhaps gas chromatography, some physical properties (like pH, volatile solids, viscosity and density), as well as purification steps needed to separate interfering compounds from what the test is looking for. And then someone will need to be paid to look at the data and piece it all together.

I used to dread the lunchtime phonecall at the lab (they always seems to come in between 12:15 and 12:30 for some reason) where someone thought they could save some money and make their own (fill in the blank household product) and the would call the lab and ask if we could deconstruct the item and tell them how to make it. Everyone seems to think there is some sort of Star Trek Tricorder that we just put the stuff in and the computer would tell us what was in it, and how to make it. They always seemed shocked when we would tell them it would cost hundreds of dollars to get a basic idea, and then more if we needed a more exact answer. They would usually hang up at that point...

Having worked in a commercial chemistry lab, I would expect to spend on the order of $1500 to $2500 to get a pretty close ballpark. Getting the real, final, thing will probably take 5 or 10 times more money... The more precise you want it, the more it's going to cost.

04-08-2010, 12:03 PM
What Kirk says is true, and I (for one) definitely couldn't do it for free. I also doubt that a commercial lab would entertain an external order if they suspect that there is a current patent or something that could get them named on a lawsuit. Maybe that's not an issue any more, I don't know offhand. But you really need to dig into the patents, not only for that reason but also for all the hints they may give.

Also there is no guarantee that the spectral signatures will add up to the exact same product. What I could do, fairly easily, is rule in or rule out certain major constituents. I.e. telling whether the recipe is closer to MM1 or FX1 would be easy enough, I suspect. But note that there may be some key constituents to the process of preparing the pods that aren't even present in the final product. I would not guarantee that all I see (and can identify) in a pod is a complete recipe.

What you can do, for free, is try some of the other suggestions already mentioned... quite simple monobath recipes with standard films. N.b. monobaths require quite some tuning; it's not like you can just take a Haist recipe and get optimal results right off the bat (I certainly didn't). Haist goes to great lengths to try to identify the variables that need to be tuned.

04-08-2010, 12:12 PM
P.S. also note that the current (aerial) panatomic-x is likely not the same thing as what we have in type 55. All I have said (and others too, if I remember correctly), is that there appears to be a close resemblance. But the aerial stuff probably differs in terms of spectral sensitivity.... and that may have implications for how it is best developed. I'd expect aerial to be considerably more red sensitive.

Mustafa Umut Sarac
04-08-2010, 12:23 PM
Kirk and Keith , You are right , I was thinking gas chromatography was needed and it is expensive.

My friend - I am not sure he wants to be revealed - is an inventor and made good money from his reverse engineering work.

It depends on his decision .

I made reverse engineering of zildjian cymbals with the decision of US based spectrometer manufacturer and learned tons of things and wrote everything to the cymbalholic com as much as I understood from chemistry.

I think he will not openly discuss these results also.

But may be. Let me write him.

If I am not wrong , there is a huge research is going on at identification from signuteres automatically
Let me learn the budget and turn back to you to learn what can be possibly done with this money.

I wrote to Polaroid and Impossible Project to send me their internal papers if they can

I will turn back to you after the discussion.

Thank you.


04-08-2010, 12:37 PM
Hi Mustafa,
Nice to hear from you again. You always spark great discussions and you've gotten some really sound advice here already.

This one has me a bit confused, though. There are two reasons to pursue historical information: 1) as a 'purist' whose primary interest is basically in technical archeology - facts for the sake of fact alone, and 2) as a creator of art who yearns for the look of an extinct product. You can be both, of course, but the direction you start your investigations is very much determined by which is more important to you. You say that your friend has tried pan x with a monobath, so that hints that he may be looking from an artist's viewpoint.

Kirk is spot-on about the costs involved if you hire an outside lab. Ouch! Really. Keith is smart to point out the pitfalls of comparing current emulsions with old, even if they carry the same name. If art is the primary goal (and, of course, pure science can always follow later), perhaps you and/or your friend should learn plain, old-fashioned emulsion making. It might seem like a backdoor approach, but it is after all how it all started. Reverse 'reserve engineering' if you will.


04-08-2010, 12:43 PM
I see I should have taken a peek at what was posted while I typed. There is indeed a third reason - the entrepreneur. If your friend is serious, I evenly more strongly advise first learning a bit about the basics of emulsions. It will serve him well in the long run.

Mustafa Umut Sarac
04-08-2010, 12:44 PM
I think We are sniffing the air like an old grey wolf to find a product who lost his way :)

04-08-2010, 01:32 PM
I have the 55 reagent or something very close to that reasonably well analyzed. The Haist book is also an excellent monobath treatise which does touch upon the reagent without being specific. There is no specific 55 related patent that I know of after a fairly intense review. At least one suitable off-the-shelf emulsion has been identified that could be used with the reagent - but - we do not have a handle on the DTR kinetics yet, which are determined by, among other things, the receiver sheet.

That's the part where I could use some help.

Much more on http://new55project.blogspot.com

Photo Engineer
04-08-2010, 01:38 PM
The two main ingredients that I remember are KOH and Carboxy Methyl Cellulose.


Kirk Keyes
04-08-2010, 03:25 PM
The two main ingredients that I remember are KOH and Carboxy Methyl Cellulose.

Neither of which would show it in a gas chromatographic analysis.

Photo Engineer
04-08-2010, 03:55 PM
Correct Kirk. It would take a wet chemical analysis for organics and inorganics to really do the job right!


04-08-2010, 06:19 PM
Yes KOH is fine and you can use LiOH - either one with a pH of 11 when all is mixed. Cellulose thickener is to regulate spread rate and thickness. Other materials such as silica have and can be used.

If you are familiar with Haist you will recognize this:

from the 55 pod MSDS


I am up to my ears in what are essentially monobaths. But the above used alone, don't expect a good cleared negative. The receiver sheet construction, nucleating properties and absorption of dissolved silver appear to be important, and while there are many patents and descriptions of the receiver sheet, none are specific (or say they are) to 55.

Please someone out there must have some knowledge of the production and preparation of the older receiver paper, the stuff that needs coating. If you do, I would gladly compensate expenses as this part of our project is proving costly, time consuming, and tying up resources as we cast about.

The rest is straightforward. If the economics are right, and we follow through (after knowing receivers) I am quite sure we will have a high quality 4X5 and maybe 8X10 field processable negative system with some kind of positive as a remnant, at least. It can be made as complicated as we like, but this isn't actually very hard as long as we remember we are not trying to make 55.


Photo Engineer
04-08-2010, 07:11 PM

It needs a thickener to make it spread properly. IDK how much, but a little bit of CMC goes a long way.


04-08-2010, 07:22 PM
P.S. also note that the current (aerial) panatomic-x is likely not the same thing as what we have in type 55. All I have said (and others too, if I remember correctly), is that there appears to be a close resemblance. But the aerial stuff probably differs in terms of spectral sensitivity.... and that may have implications for how it is best developed. I'd expect aerial to be considerably more red sensitive.

aero film
had red sensitivity
to cut through haze ..
pan x wasn't quite like that ...
but aero x from mr foto1 is pretty cheap :)