Nickel Plating Copper Without Electricity or Activator

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Introduction: Nickel Plating Copper Without Electricity or Activator

Copper can be coated with Nickel using electrolysis(electro plating) or by an electroless process(autocatalytic phosphorus nickel), while the electroless process seems to be quite simple and inexpensive, the fact is that there are many metals like copper that are not catalytic to the process and can not be coated without using an expensive palladium chloride activator solution(palladium is quite expensive).

Enter Contact Plating discovered by Henry Bessemer in 1831 (Graham's Electroplating Engineering Handbook) it fell into obscurity shortly after electroplating became practical, but I still believe the process has merits especially for small/medium copper pieces like jewelr.

What is contact plating?

In Contact Plating we place a noble metal(Copper with a positive standard reduction potential) in contact with a more reactive metal like Aluminum(negative standard reduction potential), in an electrolyte solution of the metal we want to deposit, in this case Nickel Chloride, Nickel Chloride reacts with aluminum creating aluminum chloride and nickel metal(2 Al(s) + 3 NiCl2(aq) = 2 AlCl3(aq) + 3 Ni ) and while Copper is kept in contact with aluminum it's temporarily charged with Aluminums negative reduction potential charge and is electrically coated with Nickel.

Standard Reduction Potentials in Aqueous Solution.

http://www.chemeddl.org/services/moodle/media/QBan...

Step 1: Equipment and Chemicals Need It

1. Heat source to keep electrolytic solution at 80/90 celsius(I used an electric hot plate).

2. Source of Aluminum container(I used a cast aluminum skillet).

3. Nickel Chloride(Saturated solution, one litter).

4. Safety Gear.

5. Pieces to be coated with Nickel(I cut some Copper piping to simulate Copper articles/Jewelry).

Step 2: Nickel Coating

Just heat the skillet and the Nickel Solution and placed the Copper articles(previously polished and properly cleaned and degreased), move/turn the pieces from time to time so they get coated evenly, about 5 minutes for a thin coat, you can leave it longer for a thicker coat of Nickel.

2 People Made This Project!

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36 Discussions

0
kotare-weza
kotare-weza

Question 6 months ago on Step 1

Can you use this method with a seashell that has been electroformed with copper but still has half the shell showing but covered with a latex paint so chemicals does not eat away. Or is this just strictly for metal only?

0
jbc1
jbc1

Question 9 months ago

I saw your 'DIY Spray on Chrome' Instructables. Very nice.
In the end of that one, you said: "I hope you like it and get ready for my Next DIY Silver/Copper/Gold Coating for Small 3D prints."

Was that one done? I could not find it. I'd love to see that one using DIY electroless using silver nitrate.

0
YoussefD12
YoussefD12

Question 1 year ago on Introduction

Hi, I intend to use it for my circuit boards to make a layer of conductor above copper. And I intend to sell them. I hope you don't mind. Do you? ;)

0
nicamarvin
nicamarvin

Reply 9 months ago

Not at all..

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

1 year ago

Other types of wastes can be combined like Chrome 3+, Manganese, etc into solids. For 500 ml waste of 20 g of chrome it can be mixed with 40 g of Lemon Pie cake, sugars and flower (35-40 g) and heated in paint cans or sent as solid waste. Other solids that are toxic like cobalt into cobalt (III) hydroxide can be done this way!!

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0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

Reply 1 year ago

The first one I used a beaker to heat carefully yeast with sugars and gold waste AU+3.

0
conradrmc
conradrmc

3 years ago

What liquid do you saturate in nickel chloride?

0
nicamarvin
nicamarvin

Reply 3 years ago

Tap Water and at least 50 mg per litter is need it

0
RobertL437
RobertL437

Reply 1 year ago

This is an awesome instructable.
I'm spot welding 18650 cells with nickel strip and I'd like to nickel plate a copper strip to make battery packs.

Copper is the best electrical connecter but it will corrode and because copper has no resistance it cannot be resistance welded/spot welded, so the easy solution has been to spot weld multiple layers of nickel strip to compensate for the higher resistance.

Company's like Makita have been plating nickel to copper to spot weld their battery packs.

So I just would like to double check the solubility recommended is 50mg per liter?

It sounded very low percentage, did you mean 5g per liter?

0
conradrmc
conradrmc

Reply 3 years ago

Also would a 10% solution be sufficient?

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

Tip 2 years ago

For Nickel electrolysis of brass or copper polarity is very important. Nickel plate (Positive) and Copper is Negative. I usually use 6-volt battery or 3-6 volt Snaps power supply for that.

Lower voltages 3 volts DC work better tho I heard even if it takes a lot longer.

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

Tip 2 years ago

I recommend getting tho this may be tough a aluminum pan for this if your going to do it. Do not use aluminum foil since Nickel chloride produces some Hydrochloric acid.

NiCl2 (aq) + 4H20 >>>> Ni(OH)2 + 2HCl.

It will very quickly eat right through the "Aluminum foil". This is a really good Instructable. However i find you can get better results with electroylsis.

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

3 years ago

Here the Label for NIckel chloride 6 hydrate. Be very careful with it!!

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SHOE0007
SHOE0007

3 years ago

Don't forget Nickel waste too is very toxic and dangerous for the enivorment too.

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

3 years ago

Too ANYONE WHO want to try this. Be aware of Nickel chloride reacting towards aluminum in copper pipes. You need something stronger than aluminum foil Yes I have tried this for aluminum foil and it is too REACTIVE. The aluminum reacts very quickly with the hydrochloric acid in Nickel chloride. Does anyone have ANY SUGGESTIONS of what material besides aluminum foil could be used with Nickel chloride?

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

3 years ago

Diluting Phosphoric acid 85.5% with DISTILLED WATER to make a half and half mixture. Concentrated Phosphoric acid if Hot will eat through glass even Pyrex. This type has very low concentration of heavy metals as well.

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

3 years ago

I am thinking manganese dioxide in 40% Phosphoric acid with steel wool heated to 90-100 degrees C.

You can buy 85.5% Phosphoric acid and Manganese dioxide on e-bay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gM8ZjWY7WR8

0
SHOE0007
SHOE0007

3 years ago

Good job here. You should indicate that all Nickel salts especially Nickel chloride salts are class 1A (Proven to cause cancer in Humans). Also I have a question does the aluminum act as a catylist or is this a reversible equalbrium?

0
nicamarvin
nicamarvin

Reply 3 years ago

That is correct, I forgot about that, I have also tried with Cobalt Chloride, it gives a true chrome appearance, the aluminum works as a power source of sorts, like a electrolytic cell battery, it provides the negative charge(cathode) and the positive charge comes from the nickel electrolyte this will be true for most metal electrolytes like copper, cobalt, nickel and maybe their mixture to form alloy but I have not tested that yet.