Realworld Experiences with Electrical Corrosion and ACZP
06/2015  R. Kwas (Anti-Corrosive Zink Paste [ACZP] is my generic term), updates on-going (mostly when the spirit moves me).

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Electric Service disrupted at Swedish Embassy*
Electrical service interruption at Joe E's. house
 

ACZP Droop Test

Reference Information

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Electric Service disrupted at Swedish Embassy*, because of Galvanic Corrosion.  One Sunday morning, not long ago, half of the electrical items plugged in at the Embassy weren't getting power?!?...including the coffeemaker...this was cause for Immediate and Decisive Action!  ...after operating the coffeemaker from an outlet which was powered, and averting crisis No. 1, a quick check of the electrical service panel showed the problem wasn't due to a tripped breaker, but that one of the two phases coming into the house was completely dead.  Half the electrical panel was deenergized.  Checking the meter, or seeing if branches had torn down a cable and looking with binoculars, at the connections to the transformer at the pole, revealed nothing unusual, and some of the neighbors, by now also standing around their front yard, were also experiencing similar power problems...the problem was clearly "on the pole". 

When the utility service man arrived and checked, he discovered one of the two crimps directly next to the transformer was open.  It turns out, these (aluminum) crimps, connecting the transformer output wire (copper) to mine and several other customer's houses (with aluminum wire) were located just below the secondary output terminals of the transformer, and positioned vertically, the positioning allowing rainwater to enter the crimps, allowing a combination of Simple Oxidation and Galvanic Corrosion to finally triumph!  Aluminum and copper are a common combination in electrical distribution systems, and checking the Galvanic Chart, there is a significant 0.5V of Galvanic voltage, which will drive corrosion, to be expected.

After the nice serviceman replaced both crimps (with clamps), I asked him for the old ones in order to perform a dissection and post-mortem (I expect not many customers do that, but inquisitive minds need to investigate these things!).  When I cut them open at the Embassy-Technology Testing Center, what I found was no major surprise (to me)...corrosion had done its dirty work, and the insides (of both!) were filled with white and black aluminum oxides (both non-conductive!, see pictures and Reference information, Excerpt from Framatome Connectors International below), and insulation on both showed unmistakable signs of having been hot to the point of partially melting!. 

Furthermore, the reason this happened can be explained partially in that the crimps had actually been installed wrong, and contrary to the power company installation guidelines (see Reference information, Excerpt from Framatome Connectors International below) which the serviceman pointed out...it seems that when installed vertically, there are specific guidelines for crimps, which call for the aluminum (least noble) cable to always be above the copper (more noble) cable

But installed wrong, they were...so the natural forces were allowed to slowly do their chemical thing.  As it was, these crimps lasted for a long time (more than 20 years).  If they had been located near the ocean, I expect it wouldn't have taken quite as long, but their inevitable failure was preprogrammed! ...as they say:  "You can't fool Mother-Nature!" 


Crimps, showing Simple and Galvanic Corrosion at Reds and Insulation heat damage at Yellows.
No evidence of ACZP is visible in the crimp areas. 

The heat damage evident in the picture above was generated was a result of the Resistance Heating of the oxidized joint...recall that Ohms Law explains that when a current is passed through a Resistance a Voltage Drop (VD) occurs, and this VD results in some power being dissipated as heat!  This also means that all other Loads in that circuit were subjected to that voltage drop occurring across that Resistance...this sometimes is quite apparent in the form of a dip in the lights as a heavy load is switched ON.  I can't say that I recall  significant dips before the incident, but I can say that I haven't noticed any after the repair.


  Service Transformer with old crimp locations at Yellow.  Orange shows replacement cable-clamps (not crimps) in place.

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Electrical service interruption at Joe E's. house, due to galvanic corrosion.  Apparently, one phase was also out at Joe's house not long ago.  A two-man service crew was dispatched from the power company to check and repair.  When they removed the meter, the source was immediately obvious.  One (probably aluminum) clamp which is supposed to secure the (maybe copper, maybe aluminum, he didn't mention it...if copper then it's Galvanic corrosion, if Aluminum is simple corrosion or Oxidation....but what's the difference...result is the same!...see also Reference information below) wire at the meter socket was surrounded by corrosion and so loose, that arcing and carbonization had finally opened the connection totally. 

After he located it, one service-man called to the other to "...get the Penetrox from the truck!"...but Joe was quicker...he just ducked into the garage and retrieved the sample I gave him, prompting the service-man to ask "...how do you know about Penetrox?", to which Joe answered,  "I just know about it...!"

Joe bought me a nice Weissbier the next time he saw me (thanks Joe!).

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Additional: 

ACZP Droop Test:  In order to get some objective and comparative data on the droop, and migration factor, a Droop Test was performed on ACZP of various manufacturers, at the Swedish Embassy - Technology Testing Center.  This test is not a extensive scientific study, but quick, real-world test which would check one of the most important parameters of the products:  Staying where applied!  

Test consisted of placing a .5ccm testblob of the ACZP of three manufacturers*, on an inert, vertical, test substrate (G10 circuit board with solder-mask [epoxy] surface treatment) as might be encountered in actual use.  Two test surfaces were prepared and exposed to two different temperature conditions.  Sample 1 was left at relatively constant ambient temperatures of approx. 60F (the embassy cellar!), simulating application on an electrical panel.  Sample 2 was exposed to temperature cycling from approx. 60F to 120F (the embassy attic!...where temperatures cycle wildly from night and day in the summer, but nowhere near as high as engine compartment temps!) simulating application in a less-than-maximum-temperature engine compartment.  Sample 3 was installed in an Engine compartment, to experience the worst-case environmental conditions occurring there...test is on-going!   

*  Penetrox and Ox-Gard were purchased outright, Noalox used was an engineering sample kindly made available by their product manager after their response to my advising them of their product's unsatisfactory performance.  See:  Reference Information, Excerpts of Correspondence with Ideal

Results of Sw-Em ACZP Droop Test:

Preliminary Results (after 1 week, no picture)

After only a week, one of the Noalox test blobs had separated and part of the mass, lubricated by the carrier, had drooled down the vertical surface worse than I've ever seen under the nose of a three year old (6 inches!!)...and that was on the ambient temp sample...I can only imagine what the elevated/cycled temp sample looks like! (Actually, not nearly as bad, see results of Sample 2 Evaluation below).  
Penetrox:  No product separation, no position or shape change, no droop observed.
Ox-Gard:  No product separation, no position or shape change, no droop observed.

Results at End of test (after 1 month):


Picture of Sample 1 ACZP Droop Test exposed to ambient temperatures
(natural lighting to accentuate substrate surface):  At Green, Penetrox and Ox-Gard products have remained where they were applied more than one month earlier, and unchanged.  At Red, Noalox test blob has moved from its original area of application, separated into two parts, as well as having separated from its carrier which has run down to the test surface edge. 

Sample 1 Evaluation:
Noalox: 
Severe drooping and product separation of carrier has occurred.  Part of test blob has run down 10 inches, and carrier alone has continued to run down to test substrate edge some 17 inches (it would have run further if able).
Penetrox: 
No drooping or separation occurred.  The test blob remained essentially unchanged in location and appearance from the day of application.
Ox-Gard: 
No drooping or separation occurred. The test blob remained essentially unchanged in location and appearance from the day of application.
 

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Picture of Sample 2 ACZP Droop Test exposed to cycled temperatures:
At Green, all three samples have remained where they were applied more than one month before.  At Red, Noalox carrier has separated and run down more than 11 inches. 

Sample 2 Evaluation:
Noalox: 
Slight drooping and product separation of carrier has occurred.
Penetrox: 
No drooping or separation occurred.  The test blob remained essentially unchanged in location and appearance from the day of application.
Ox-Gard: 
No drooping or separation occurred. The test blob remained essentially unchanged in location and appearance from the day of application.

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Droop Test Conclusions:  The formulations and viscosity of Penetrox and Ox-Gard are such that they absolutely stayed where applied...this is an important product characteristic to allow it to perform its' intended function...as they say:  No runs, no drips, no errors!  

Noalox sample on the other hand, which manufacturer stated was of a formula with "changes and improvements " (See:  Reference Information, Excerpts of Correspondence with Ideal) on continues to exhibit the unsatisfactory action I had observed on previous samples, separating and running away from area of application.  Sorry, guys...I don't see any "improvements"!   

The difference in results between the Noalox samples 1 and 2 is due to the separation of the product...Sample 1 was well on the way to separating (again!) in the container before application on the test surface, so as soon as it was liberated from its squeeze container, the carrier started running away, allowing the testblob to separate into two parts and taking them both, at different rates, along...but that demonstrates the whole point and my (continued) complaint!...it shouldn't need remixing to homogenize the entire container just before application.  This proves it it still separating.  I invited Ideal to try to change my mind (See:  Reference Information, Excerpts of Correspondence with Ideal), but my test results and considered opinion of their product are unchanged, because the performance of their product is unchanged! 

My Recommendations:    Penetrox and Ox-Gard are well suited and recommended for the long-term protection of electrical connections from Simple and Galvanic Corrosion on vintage vehicles or houses.  Noalox is not recommended for use in vehicles or houses or anywhere for that matter at this time (Ideal has not changed my mind!), because of its' continued low viscosity and resulting migration and separation tendencies! 

Sample 3 Evaluation:

PLACEHOLDER

 

See also:  Simple Corrosion/Oxidation vs. Galvanic Corrosion and Burndy's Penetrox A vs. Ideal's Noalox vs. Gardener-Bender's Ox-Gard

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Reference Information:

Excerpt from Framatome Connectors International 1998 publication (title?), which a friend at the power company was able to locate (thanks Fred G.!)...all interesting and applicable, but particularly relevant information is highlighted.  

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Excerpts of Correspondence with Ideal: 

 (Individual's names have been removed/changed to initials only, as I have no permission to publish.  My Comments, my Highlights)

Ron,

Thanks for letting me know you received them.  Glad to hear it's looking good so far.  Looking forward to hearing your results when they're ready.

Regards,
C S
Product Manager, Tools & Supplies
IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.


-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Kwas
Sent: Tuesday, March 17, 2015 8:50 AM
To: SC
Subject: Re: FW: FW: Noalox

C;

We have received your samples of the Noalox product in three different containers, thank you.

I noticed immediately that the consistency is different, and I observe no separation/stratification at this time...a good start!  We will subject product to tests in our various applications to ascertain and confirm suitability.  Understand that this will be in part, a long-term test, so it will take some time before you can expect to receive feedback.

Thanks again for your good customer support and Regards, Ron

 

-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Kwas
Sent: Monday, February 23, 2015
To: SC
Subject: Re: FW: Noalox

M S;

Thank you for following up. 

As I noted before, I have observed the separation and migration issues for every style container (container with brush on lid and squeeze container), of Noalox that I have ever run across (in the past when I was looking for a suitable product)...being particularly sensitive to the separation and migration issues, I checked multiple containers...so I don't believe this to be a lot or shelf-life issue.  I believe this is
a carrier/formulation issue.   Have you performed any separation tests
on your formulation at increased Gs (centrifuge) to simulate storage/long-term behavior after application?

More importantly, I observed migration and separation after application on vertical surfaces (to say nothing of what I would expect at elevated temperatures!)....this is borderline horrifying and completely unacceptable...first, just because of the mess...very simply, product should stay where applied(!), but secondly, and more critically important, because any zinc particles which do migrate along with carrier, are in a position to change the voltage withstand / surface creepage electrical characteristics of a panel.

Since I have ceased its use and presently recommend against it, I just don't come across it anymore...but I invite you to try to change my perception.  I would be willing to retest and reconsider samples in whatever container styles you would like to forward.  Ship-to info below.

Regards,
Ronald Kwas
 


SC wrote:

 

Hello Mr. Kwas,

My name is CS.  I'm the product manager over the Noalox product you tested.  J is our team lead in charge of the production of this product, and he and I have had conversations trying to root cause the issue you experienced.  I have also copied Mr. DD who is our QC manager, and who is checking to ensure our current inventory is within our quality standards.

I'm very appreciative that you informed us of your experience with our product, which gives us a chance to look into the matter.  It looks as though the product you tested was made in 2007.  While several years old, this is still within what we have considered an acceptable "shelf life".  However, in light of your results, I'm suggesting to our team that we take another look at our shelf life standards with some additional testing.  In addition, however, since this production lot we have already made some changes and improvements to our formula.  J looked at several years of production retains, and it seems to indicate a more uniform mixture has been achieved in lots that are only a year or two newer than your sample.

This is one of our top selling products, and this is the first we've heard of a product experience that was so disappointing to one of our customers.  If you are willing to retest, I invite you to compare your results with the formula currently in production.  I will provide you with whatever products are of interest to you for your test sample, and I would appreciate if you would share your findings with us.  Just let me know what you need, and a shipping address.  My hope is that we can regain your trust in our product and our brand.

Regards,

CS
Product Manager, Tools & Supplies
IDEAL INDUSTRIES, INC.

-----Original Message-----
From: LJ
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
To: SC
Subject: FW: Noalox

Hi C,

Here is Mr. Kwas's responds. It looks as though the Noalox he has was made back in 2007.

J

-----Original Message-----
From: Ron Kwas
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015
To: LJ
Subject: Re: Noalox

M L;

Thank you for your quick response.  As I stated in my feedback, I know Ideal as a supplier of quality tools, and your quick response to negative feedback from a less-than-satisfied customer shows your company still places a high value on customer support...this itself is commendable!

I have to note that I have experienced the low viscosity/continued
migration and separation of the suspension issues in several, (and
every) container of Noalox I have ever run across, so I would be surprised if this was a "lot issue", but the single one that we still have, has the datecode 078807 on it.  Indeed when I checked this container, which was effectively empty of product, it still had remains of vehicle gathered on the bottom, and this was /completely transparent and devoid/ of any zinc particles, which had totally precipitated out.
Practically viewed, in use on (typically vertical surfaces) of electrical panels, this means that little of the zinc active ingredient actually stays where it is supposed to, giving zero galvanic protection, to say nothing of the gooey mess in the area below to which it migrated.

I would be interested in what "steps" you might be taking to "correct this issue"...it seems to me that squeeze tube packaging requires the product viscosity to be low enough to allow dispensing, but increasing this still does not address the separation issue...and as the present formulation separates, the vehicle remains as a viscous liquid, and the zinc particles settle into a semi-solid mass which it is very difficult to even get a mixing implement through...so a stratification of viscosities is actually occurring with the separation.

I invite you to try to change my impression.  I would be willing to evaluate samples of improved formulations you might develop, but for now, I have to recommend against its use.

Regards,
Ronald Kwas
InTeLab


LJ wrote:

 

Sir,



My name is JL, and Im the team lead for the Noalox
product line. I too am very disappointed in your findings on my
end. In an effort to remedy this issue I was wondering if you
could send me the date code from the bottles you did your testing on.
Date code will be located on the side of the bottle at the bottom.
We will need all the numbers/letters in this code. We here at
IDEAL INDUSTRIES INC are taking this very seriously, and are
taking steps to correct this issue. Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciate.


Thank You

JL

Team Lead
 

 

Having obviously studied this issue at length, I couldn't help myself and had to leave this less-than-glowing Amazon Customer Feedback for Ideal's Noalox (8oz. size)  (LINK:  http://www.amazon.com/Ideal-30-031-Noalox-Anti-Oxidant-Compound/dp/B002KKY5MC/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1423507857&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=noalox+8oz ). 

Copy of my original product feedback: 

Good Concept, but Poor Execution from this manufacturer! Viscosity of carrier is much, much too low! This causes product to totally separate during storage, requiring extensive mixing to get the zinc particles back into suspension, and the brush built into the cap is NOT strong enough for this mixing. The other squeeze bottle container which is available is even worse...the first thing which comes out because of the separation, is a runny, clear thick liquid with ZERO zinc particles, and the opening of the squeeze bottle is so small it doesn't allow for decent mixing.

OK, so after mixing with a metal rod (a wooden stick or paint stirrer is not even strong enough!), and making a general mess, and wasting product, you can use the brush to apply it or put the top back on squeeze bottle and squeeze it out...but then product is so thin and runny that it oozes away from vertical surfaces where its applied within 24hrs, making a mess below, because carrier stays runny and does not dry (horizontal surfaces take a little longer but result is the same). This product (and especially the squeeze bottle packaging) was a complete disappointment...even as a lube, its a disappointment because the stuff just doesn't stay put! Ideal is a manufacturer and supplier of first quality tools and products, but they really missed the boat here...much preferable to Ideal's Noalox product is Burndy's Penetrox anti-oxidant paste...same zinc particle active ingredient, but as a paste (grease carrier!), it stays absolutely where it's applied, including overhead and at elevated temps (no, my brother-in-law does not own Burndy, I just know what works for me, and what doesn't!). I've also contacted Ideal and suggested product improvements...competition is good for the breed...and this brand is what local home improvement places carry, so if this product was improved to correct this weakness, availability factor would be a big positive. Cheers!

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This article and information is Copyright 2015.  Ronald Kwas.  The terms Volvo, Ideal's Noalox, Burndy's Penetrox, Gardener-Bender's Ox-Gard, Framatome are used for reference only.  I have no affiliation with any of these companies other than to present my highly opinionated  results of the use of their products here.  The information and recommendations presented here come from my own experience and highly considered opinion, and can be used or not, or ridiculed and laughed at, at the readers discretion.  As with any recipe, your results may vary, and you are, and will always be, in charge of your own knuckles! 

*  Furthermore, we are not affiliated with the Embassy of Sweden.  If you are looking for a work visa for when you visit your uncle Olaf north of Stockholm next summer, please see here:  http://www.swedenabroad.com/

You are welcome to use the information here in good health, and for your own non-commercial purposes, but if you reprint or otherwise republish this article, you must give credit to the author or link back to the SwEm site as the source.  If you dont, youre just a lazy, scum sucking plagiarist, and the Boston Globe wants you!  As always, if you can supply corrections, or additional objective information or experience, I will always consider it, and consider working it into the next revision of this article...along with likely the odd metaphor and probably wise-a** comment. 

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