Sulfuric Acid Anodizing Bath Makeup
Can you explain the ratio of acid in the anodizing bath and whether it is calculated by volume or by weight?
Q. I'm a beginner in the anodizing field. Please explain to me about the ratio of acid in the anodizing bath. Usually the ratio is from 15 percent to18 percent, but is this ratio calculated by volume or by weight? —H.N.T.
A. Here is the formula for calculating the amount of sulfuric acid to use for the anodizing bath makeup. Please note that this formula is for using 66o Baume’ (93 percent) sulfuric acid. If you are not using 66o you will have to adjust the formula accordingly. The bath is always made up by weight of sulfuric acid, not volume. If you make up the bath by volume it will give results that are almost twice the concentration that you want. This is because 93 percent sulfuric acid weighs almost twice as much as water.
Liters of 66o Be’ H2SO4 per 378 liters of anodizing bath = 100 x % by weight bath desired x 2.37.
Liters of H2SO4 required for a 500 liter 15 percent by weight anodizing bath = 100 x .15 x 2.37 x (500/378) = 47 liters.
Gallons of 66o Be’ H2SO4 per 100 gallons of anodizing bath = 100 x % by weight bath desired x 0.625.
Gallons of H2SO4 required for a 500 gallon 15 percent by weight anodizing bath = 100 x .15 x 0.625 x (500/100) = 47 gallons.
The concentration of the anodizing bath should be expressed in grams per liter (g/l).
The amount of dissolved aluminum in the bath should be controlled between five g/l and 15 g/l for “general purpose,” Type II anodizing baths. Some specifications call for less than five g/l of aluminum. It’s best to follow the specification being used. Add aluminum sulfate to a brand new bath in order to get some aluminum in the bath to start with. It’s best to have about two g/l of Al in the bath to start with. This “buffers” the bath and helps prevent burning of the parts.
Aluminum sulfate is usually sold in the hydrated form with 13 molecules of water attached to each molecule of aluminum sulfate. The formula for adding Al2(SO4)3 * 13H2O is: 11 grams Al2(SO4)3 * 13H2O per liter of bath to raise the aluminum concentration by one g/l.
To raise the aluminum to two g/l in a brand new 500 liter bath, it would require two g/l x 11g/l x 500 liters = 11,000 grams, or 11 kg of aluminum sulfate.
To raise the aluminum to two g/l in a brand new 500 gallon bath, it would require two g/l x 11 g/l x 500 gal x 3.785 liters/gal = 41,635 grams, or about 92 pounds of aluminum sulfate. It helps to remember that 3.785 liters = 1 gallon and 454 grams = 1 pound.
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This important first step can help prepare the metal for subsequent surface finishing.