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"Potassium Chloride Shortage for Zinc Plating Is there an alternative?"
TUTORIAL FOR NEWBIES:
Many platers use potassium chloride based acid zinc plating processes, but potassium chloride has suddenly become essentially unavailable.
This is not your typical Covid-related short-term supply disruption which we're all getting used to. Rather, the world's chief mines in Canada suddenly closed due to brine intrusion and there is nothing scheduled to replace them for many months.
Q. We have been informed there is a major disruption to the supply of potassium chloride to North America. This shortage will last for next 6 months; We do not have enough supplies to withstand that timeframe. Potassium chloride is used in zinc plating bath to help provide conductivity.
Is anyone aware of an alternative for an acid chloride bath?
- Cleveland, Ohio
A. Hi Chuck. The vendors are burning the midnight oil on conversion technology. Columbia Chemical has a page at
and your vendor may have similar advice.
Most USA platers, ensnarled by air & water permitting requirements, can probably not legally do a major conversion such as to alkaline non-cyanide or ammonium-chloride baths in time, so 'adjustments' through your proprietary vendor may be your only path.
I think it will get worse before it gets better because the medical industry must get first dibs on any potassium chloride remaining available. But China is currently the world's fourth largest supplier of potassium chloride, and has shown itself far more adept at crash programs than the West anymore, so my bet is that this will quickly change and potassium chloride will become available to you from China. We'll see. Sorry for venting more than solving, but I can offer no actual solution ... hopefully another reader will :-)
Luck & Regards,
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET
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