Development of etching paste for serial number restoration on aluminum engine block

UYSAL S., Yildiz E., ARMUTCU ÇORMAN C., Yalçın Sarıbey A., UZUN L.

Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol.68, no.4, pp.1325-1329, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 68 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1556-4029.15303
  • Journal Name: Journal of Forensic Sciences
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Periodicals Index Online, Aerospace Database, Analytical Abstracts, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Communication Abstracts, Criminal Justice Abstracts, EBSCO Legal Source, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, DIALNET, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1325-1329
  • Keywords: aluminum, engine number, etching paste, obliteration, restoration
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Engine numbers, which involve information regarding the engine type, production number, and year and place of manufacture, are used for identification purposes. Comprising of unique alphanumeric characters, the engine numbers are fully or partially obliterated especially in auto theft and smuggling cases to conceal the origin, identity, and owner of vehicles. The limitations of the current restoration techniques such as the difficulty of using chemical liquid etching in vertical sites, the restrictions of magnetic and optical methods, and the applicability of several techniques like electron backscatter diffraction only in the laboratory environment prompt the development of new techniques. In view of these limitations and the importance of restoring engine numbers in criminal investigations, this unique study aimed to develop an etching paste that would restore the effaced characters on a real aluminum alloy engine block. The characters which were cold-stamped on the engine block were milled at varying depths and restoration attempts were conducted using etching pastes formed with different chemicals and materials. The analyses indicate that the etching paste formed with 200 mg of perlite, 400 mg of iron powder, and 450 μL of 20 M NaOH provided restoration to a good extent. The prevention of over-etching through the controlling of the chemical reaction and the cost-effectiveness appears to be the advantages of this technique. The success of recovery on the real engine block, the facilitation of restoration on curved surfaces, and the chance of on-site usage will likely make the etching paste a widely used tool in serial number restoration.