Electrolysis - updated with photos

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BlueSwordM
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So, guys, I finally managed to make sulfuric acid!

I managed to make 20% sulfuric acid using a galvanic cell setup, with the fiberglass separator.
In the 1st part, I managed to get 200mL of sulfuric acid, which was good, but not good enough.

In the 2nd part, I decided to up the voltage to 12V, and replaced the carbon electrodes.
The current initially was small, but got massive, and I only limited the current to 1A, which was way too high for a D sized battery carbon rod.
What happened was that the bottom part of the electrode got damaged first, soo, the alligator clip moved, which let go of the electrode, and into the bath.

I noticed it during the night since I heard a click, but I thought it was something else. I was expecting 200mL of 40-60% sulfuric acid. I only got 30% sulfuric acid.

Meaning, I got 400mL of 20% sulfuric acid at the end. Which was nice, but I’m planning to scale it up a bit so I can get myself some nice 90% sulfuric acid.
Finally, I had to separate the carbon from the solution using a filter made of the fiberglass. Here’s the final results, and my setup with hot glue Smile

Also, do not spill sulfuric acid on your hands. It will make your hands super dry initially.

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BlueSwordM
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So, I’ve also discovered how to plate aluminium.

I just need a sodium hydroxyde+sodium carbonate solution, after I’ve cleaned the aluminium thorougly using HCL and a lot of elbow grease.

If I actually manage to plate copper onto aluminium, that would be absolutely amazing.

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BlueSwordM wrote:
So, I’ve also discovered how to plate aluminium.

I just need a sodium hydroxyde+sodium carbonate solution, after I’ve cleaned the aluminium thorougly using HCL and a lot of elbow grease.

If I actually manage to plate copper onto aluminium, that would be absolutely amazing.

So true!
imagine this in Copper Smile

Geuzz wrote:
BlueSwordM
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@jon_slider, I have some good news, and some very good news.

The good news is that I can easily make a flash copper solution if I have a solution of sodium hydroxide to dissolve copper ions in, meaning I could plate aluminium.
That also means I can make a zincate solution to actually plate aluminium with copper

The very good news are:
1. I can easily buy sodium hydroxide.
2. I can easily make a zincate solution just by dropping zinc in a sodium hydroxide solution.
3. I can easily remove anodizing by dropping the part in sodium hydroxide(lye).

That means the copper electroplating solution of aluminium flashlights is on the way Smile

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jon_slider
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wow, so cool!
Copper Plated RRT-01 Rotaries with Clemence’s triple or quad Nichia boards, plus trits!;-)
some people might like Nickel Plated too.. Wink

umm.. did someone mention Silver Plating (yet)?:-)

pass the popcorn!

BlueSwordM
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Nickel and copper would be relatively easy to do.

Here’s my game plan for testing my process, of which I will be posting updates until I can make a final evaluation :

1. De-anodize tailcap. Easy, and no risk to the light.

Materials:
- Sodium hydroxide
- Water
- Tailcap

Protocol:
1. Clean the tailcap.
2. Prepare a solution of sodium hydroxide by putting in X g of sodium hydroxide per 1000mL of water. Put in the water first.
3. Put in the tailcap for 1-2 minutes. Repeat the process as many times as necessary.
4. Rinse the tailcap with water.

You are done.

2. Prepare the zincate solution.

WARNING: This step is quite dangerous, as zinc reacts with NaOH more quickly since the oxide layer isn’t as tough. That means if the zinc is clean, unlike aluminium which oxidizes extremely rapidly, it will react violently, and release hydrogen(NaOH+Zn —-> Zn(OH)4 2- +H2

Materials::
- Sodium hydroxide
- Water
- Zinc
- HCL

Protocol:
TO BE REVISED

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BlueSwordM
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So, this is going to be more complicated than I expected.

To make this zincate solution, I need to dissolve the zinc first in HCL to get zinc chloride.
DO NOT DO THIS INDOORS, especially in large quantities. Bad things can happen.

I’ll have to do that outside for pretty obvious reasons.

Then, I’ll have to neutralize the solution of ZnCL2 with NaOH:
2NaOH + ZnCl2→ Zn(OH)2 + 2NaCl

The reaction should be balanced at that point, and I should have zinc hydroxide precipitate.
This will allow me to decant the solution and get pure zinc hydroxide power after drying it.

After that, to prepare the zincate solution, I need to put it in a solution of sodium hydroxide to get the zincate solution.

Then I’ll be able to prepare the alkaline copper plating solution, and nickel.

See you guys next time! I’m logging out.

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BlueSwordM wrote:
4. Connect your 5V power supply to the AC receptable

Directions unclear, need DIY fire extinguisher fast. Big Smile

I plated some stuff years ago, but I didn’t realize I could have made the Copper Acetate Solution myself, I bought mine. Thanks for the info!

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Yes, but in a regular plating setup, making copper acetate that way work well in the beginning, but becomes horribly inefficient as the solution gets copper in it.

That is because the copper ions now have a path to travel to the opposite electrode, which prevents more copper to dissolve in the solution.

There are 3 ways to bypass this:
1. Use a higher % of vinegar. 10% works better, but not optimally.
2. Make a galvanic cell setup. That will separate the solutions, meaning you will be getting maximum concentration until the solution is saturated.

3. Don’t do actual plating with copper acetate.
Use hydrochloric acid for a rapid etch plate.
Use copper sulfate for some metals, which is the best method.
Make a complicated alkaline setup from scratch since nobody is willing to share anything useful in the electroplating community.

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BlueSwordM wrote:
Yes, but in a regular plating setup, making copper acetate that way works well in the beginning, but becomes horribly inefficient as the solution gets copper in it.

That is because the copper ions noe have a path to travel to the opposite electrode, which prevents more copper to dissolve in the solution.

There are 3 ways to bypass this:
1. Use a higher % of vinegar. 10% works better, but not optimally.
2. Make a galvanic cell setup. That will separate the solutions, meaning you will be getting maximum concentration until the solution is saturated.

3. Don’t do actual plating with copper acetate.
Use hydthcloric acid for a rapid plate.
Use copper sulfate for some metals, which is the best method.
Make a complicated alkaline setup from scartch since nobody is willing to share anything useful in the electroplating community.

It sounds like you know your stuff. I would totally watch any YT video you uploaded on electroplating.

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Yeah, I have to learn stuff the hard way.

Nobody in the industry is willing to share anything, so I have to use my chemistry knowledge, backwards means of searching for product compositions, and the like.

It does make for a fun learning experience.

And while it is actually more expensive initially to make the products and purchasing the necessary materials,
if I actually manage to reverse engineer an inexpensive process, I will be able to plate almost all aluminium lights with copper or nickel.
The problem with ordering plating supplies online is the shipping, and I don’t want to pay exorbitant amounts for a local shop to do it, for a flashlight anyway.

Here are the steps I have to do, and what backwards means I’ve had to actually make it.

1. Prepare a sodium hydroxide aluminium anodization strip solution.
I’ve had to go to a soap making shop to get sodium hydroxide and some plastic containers to contain the solution

2. Prepare a sodium zincate solution for electroless(no electricity) plating the aluminium.
I either have to purchase zinc oxide and then dissolve it, or put zinc sheets in muriatic acid, then neutralize it with sodium hydroxide to get zinc hydroxide, which will then allow me to dissolve it in another NaOH bath.

3. Prepare an alkaline copper solution for plating.
Easy. Just get some sodium carbonate and dissolve the copper electrochemically.

Will not really work though, because of copper carbonate’s tendency of being insoluble.
I have to find another way to dissolve it.

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lampliter
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You might find this site interesting?

caswell

I think they ship everywhere.

Out of clutter find simplicity---Einstein

BlueSwordM
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I’m specifically trying to make this:
https://www.caswellcanada.ca/flash-copper-solution-part-a.html

A flash copper solution is a alkaline solution containing a copper salt dissolved in the solution.

And yes, I’ve already seen it multiple times. That’s the only solution I haven’t been able to reverse engineer/make from scratch yet.

At over 90$CA per litre, it’s not cheap though, at all. That’s why I’m trying to make my own.

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lampliter
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You may be able to find some help at chemistry stack exchange.

Out of clutter find simplicity---Einstein

BlueSwordM
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Thanks a lot for the help anyway, as I’ve spoken to a lot of people about this, which includes Nurdrage, NileRed, a chemist friend of mine working at an electroplating shop, and someone on BLF has helped me, but I will not discuss of their name.

It’s a proprietary solution, and it’s hard to do, but it is perfectly possible.

Normal methods of doing this only produce insoluble copper oxide which then needs to be processed using patented dangerous chemicals and temperatures.

However, if you introduce electricity in the process, you can basically force dissolution of copper inside of the solution in the form of…

sodium cuprate.

Proprietary solutions of flash copper are made of sodium cuprate.

If everything works out, I should have a blue solution today(which I do), and a blue no precipate solution tomorrow!

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BlueSwordM
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So, some very good news.

I managed to make some sodium cuprate, which is flash copper!

If I can manage to make the zincate solution, I should be able to try and plate copper onto aluminium.

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jon_slider
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Congrats on your progress

Since zinc is needed under copper

Im wondering what percent of people would choose just zinc plating, and what proportion of people would prefer copper

Some dont like copper, im one who does. So i would vote for copper.

Maybe at some point, a poll?

BlueSwordM
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Zincate wouldn’t work too well here, since electroless zincate plating makes for a very thin coating. But if people want an electroplated zinc coating, it would work well.

Something like:

- Deanodized
- Copper
- Nickel
- Zinc
- Silver(+ min qty needed)
- Gold salts(+++ min qty needed)

I’ll post my progress in a few minutes to show you what I’ve made.
I won’t make any progress this week though because of exams.

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Guys, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do anything related to copper plating on aluminium.

Making zincate is easy, but getting a copper solution that will actually stick to aluminium is a nightmare.

This will be postponed indefinitely.

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BlueSwordM wrote:
Guys, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do anything related to copper plating on aluminium.

Making zincate is easy, but getting a copper solution that will actually stick to aluminium is a nightmare.

This will be postponed indefinitely.

Aluminum oxidizes almost instantly in air. That’s why welding it is so darn hard. Just to test, submerge some aluminum and sand it with sand paper. Leave it in the solution, and fire up the rig. Hopefully the sanded area will plate. If this works, then you can always brainstorm on a chemical de-oxidizer method for the next go round.

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BlueSwordM wrote:
I don’t think I’m going to be able to do anything related to copper plating on aluminium

no worries, I think Gold would be nice
yeah, some say Im a Dreamer.. LOL

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jon_slider wrote:
BlueSwordM wrote:
I don’t think I’m going to be able to do anything related to copper plating on aluminium

no worries, I think Gold would be nice
yeah, some say Im a Dreamer.. LOL

I haven’t plated gold, but I don’t think it’s scary expensive at all. So little is needed it’s fairly reasonable per light.

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I Googled for some evidence to back it up. Found this post:


A. Hi, gold plating is cheap. It is incredibly thin. Greatest property of gold is ability to be spread/plated as thin as 30 atoms.
1 micron is 10,000 atoms thick.
That’s 333 times thicker than needed.
Problem is gold platers know people are ignorant.
We pay as low as $.06 per part for gold plating. We gold plate everything we can.
BlueSwordM
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@Joshk and jon_slider, I have no problem getting the zinc to stick.

It’s the copper that I can’t wrap my head around. I know what materials I need, but I do not have access to them.

Aluminium is probably the holy grail of plating metals.
If I can manage to do this, then anything else is much easier.

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Joshk
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BlueSwordM wrote:
I know what materials I need, but I do not have access to them.

What do you need?

BlueSwordM
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Pyrophosphate mainly.

I can easily dissolve any copper into solution using a galvanic cell process at high concentrations(8-10g/L), but I specifically need Pyrophosphate as a weak base for the zinc to be etched away, but the copper to stick.

Sodium cuprate(copper dissolved in sodium hydroxide) does etch the zinc, and plates copper, but sodium hydroxide attacks the aluminium, meaning you get a gap between the aluminium and copper, and copper does not stick.

If I get can get Pyrophosphate, then I’ll easily be set for making copper plated lights.

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BlueSwordM
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If you have access to pyrophosphate, I’m willing to pay a nice buck to get it shipped here.

I’d need about 1-2kgs.

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I don’t have any. All I can do is drop an email to a guy on youtube that knows his chemistry. I sent a short email to Cody at Cody’s Lab to see if the topic pique’s his interest. If so maybe he can join the conversation about making some, or do a project on his channel in the future about the topic.

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Yeah, thanks a lot, but I don’t think Cody is going to be interested by this.

Anyway, I’ve dropped emails to suppliers in Canada and some on Alibaba to see if I can get small quantities of pyrophosphate(1-3kgs) for a small batch for electroplating.

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Fair enough. I for one would love to learn more about this electroplating process. And as you said info is scarce. Seems like a perfect challenge for an educational YouTuber focused on chemistry.

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