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Electroforming a copper solar collector



(-----) 2006

Given the energy crisis I want to create a copper solar panel approx. 3 feet by 6 feet.
Test runs on small items left a thin black porous coating. It seems to me that if industry can electroplate huge slabs of copper as part of the process of purifying copper that I should be able to make a collector but I don't know what is going wrong.

Chet Niece
consumer - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
^


2006

Please tell us what instructions you are following and where you got them and we can try to critique them.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2006

I'm sorry I did not include more information. I tried 3 small test platings using distilled water, ACID drain cleaner [linked by editor to info/product at Amazon -- never mix with draino/lye/caustic type!] and a wire brushed copper fitting used to coat a second wire brushed copper fitting. I used a variety of voltages ( 3,4.5,6,+ 9 volts )from a collection of small DC adapters that I had around my home. the solution eventually turned blue so I assumed CUSO4 was produced. But after some days the copper produced had a black and dark brown coating was very grainy and had many small holes.I want to create a thicker deposit with no holes and possibly to speed up the process.

Chet Niece
consumer - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
^


2006

The smut you are seeing is probably a combination of "burning" and the non-adherent deposition of extremely small particles of copper. Most metals, including copper, look black when very finely divided.

Chester, as you yourself noted, copper electroplating is a well developed science in widespread industrial use. Yet you reject (probably inadvertently) those decades of learning and development, starting over at zero, trying to electroplate using drain cleaner as your electrolyte, copper plumbing fittings as your anodes, and DC adaptors as your power source--all three of which are very bad choices.

Unfortunately, you are not going to be able to electroform the solar collector you wish, but if you want to continue the attempt it should start by learning the necessary things about copper plating solutions, anodes, power supplies, and a number of other things that would take at least a hundred times as many words to describe as anyone could possibly write here. Please see our "must-have" booklist, and after you have read a chapter or two about each of the topics, people will be pleased to answer your specific questions. Good luck.

Ted Mooney, finishing.com
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
^


2006

Electroforming will make you a "plater" which is a very highly regulated industry by a minimum of federal, state and local environmental agencies. This is a bucket or worms that you do not want to get into.
Use copper sheet and learn how to braze it. 15% silver braze rod is a lot easier to use than 10%. Thin sheet can be bent with a sheet metal brake or over 2x4s for starters.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida
^


2006

Thank you for answering my questions. I will try to find a book on electroplating through the local county library system. Hopefully if I can get a small item to plate well I can scale it up. Electroplating still appeals to me because of the possibility of electroforming a thin wall lightweight collector using the bare minimum of expensive copper. I will also consider brazing heavy wall plumbing fittings together. I haven't a clue as to where to get sheet copper though. I do have access to a medium size plumber's acetylene touch that has a Turbo brand brazing tip. Also I wouldn't think of disposing of chemicals on the ground or down a drain. I would use the minimum needed and take the solution left to a recycling center. Thank you for your quick responses and you need not reply to this.

Chet Niece
- Lansdale, Pennsylvania, USA
^

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