Ask the Zinc Plating Experts: What’s an acid zinc plater to do with no KCL?

Ask the Zinc Plating Experts: What’s an acid zinc plater to do with no KCL?

July 9, 2021

Recognized as a world leader in Zinc Plating technology, providing options for acid zinc platers dealing with the Potassium Chloride shortage is a priority topic right now.

Q. I am an acid zinc plater and I was just notified that we will no longer be able to order Potassium Chloride for our process for at least the next several months and possibly through the end of the year. We only have enough supply for the next four weeks and I can’t find any alternate sources. What is going on and what do I do?

A. Acid Zinc plating shops throughout the country are scrambling to react to the recent news of a major disruption in the North American supply chain for Potassium Chloride due to the closing of two mines. Due to brine inflow conditions at the Mosaic Esterhazy KI and K2 mines in Canada, mining has been shut down at these two critical KCI mine sites and the alternate mine site will not be able to supplement KCI production until 2022. There are very few other commercial sources of KCl available.

Even though raw material shortages are becoming the norm today, this particular disruption in the supply chain leaves a bigger gap that threatens many industries and has no clear resolution in sight. An option for Acid Zinc platers in this situation is to consider the process they are using to see if there may be operational alternatives regarding the conductivity salts. As longtime world leaders in Zinc plating, Columbia Chemical’s COLSID AP and APD are bright zinc plating processes that were developed with a proprietary system that can transition to operate on alternate conductivity salts.

Several high-volume plating shops have long reported success using the COLSID process with conductivity salts that match their specific application or operational preferences. They appreciate the flexibility of the process that allows for adjusted concentrations in order to optimize performance in the high current density areas. Many of the processes which are used in the marketplace today contain less advanced technology and only operate on potassium chloride or a mix and cannot transition to operate with alternate conductivity salts. To add to the problem, some plating shops are now purchasing a lower grade potassium chloride containing fillers that cause quality issues in the bath.

Given the seriousness and potential duration of the KCl shortage and the feeding frenzy that is accompanying the sourcing search, your best option may be to consider COLSID AP/APD for your acid zinc process which can operate on a proprietary blend of alternate conductivity salts and will alleviate the need and concern for potassium chloride. Depending on your specific application (barrel or rack) and your operational preferences, a technical support specialist can help you determine the best option. Both proprietary processes offer extreme tolerance to contaminants, a wide operating range, and a special ductilizer compound for a bright ductile deposit.
Are you an Acid Zinc Plater stuck with no KCl? Talk to the Zinc Plating Experts today: techquestions@columbiachemical.com