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electrodeposition Answered

I am looking for a feasible DIY method of depositing aluminum from solution or vapor through electrostatic or other means. I've found one possible process using an ethereal solution of Aluminum Trichloride and Lithium Hydride. Will this allow an aluminum electrode to ionize into solution without adding more and more AlCl3? Is there a better way, such as potentially vapor deposition? Has anyone had experience at this? What are potential problems and how would you circumvent them?



9 years ago

What are potential problems

"LiH is flammable in air, and it reacts explosively with water to give corrosive LiOH together with hydrogen gas." - from the Wikipedia article. I think the process you are describing is probably out of reach of a hobbyist who doesn't have a full chemistry lab.

There are probably options that don't involve actually plating with aluminium, depending on what you want- if you want a reflective finish, there is probably a spray paint or similar to do what you want. If you want a hollow aluminium shape, you could investigate casting (which is within reach of the hobbyist, I did some myself).

I appreciate the suggestions, but I have a pretty well stocked chem store at OSU to draw upon, not to mention machining capability at my job, and high tech manufacture up to magneforming and cnc at the "ColumbusIdeaFoundry". I am a volunteer manager, and we are getting more capable at a near alarming rate. So, as someone past the hobbyist stage, has anyone had any experience with this?

There is a spray called Electrodag used for coating objects in scanning electron microscopes.. Also Aquadag.. Anyway depending on the solvent, you can do an initial coating with the spray, then a simple electroplate process. I'm not sure you can electrodeposite Al but why not copper or silver or another metal ?

Are you trying to create a process for coating other metal objects or non-metallic surfaces like chromeplating something or trying to get a gold glass/plastic visor for a HALO helmet? I'm not a metallurgist or chemist but others might need to know what this will be used for. Those compounds you mention are probably not normal household substances.

I would ultimately like to plate foam structures coated in conductive paint or glue. The substances aren't household, but a few google searches show them to be obtainable.

A problem may be that foam is a really nice insulator, so it would be difficult to use as an electrode.

Why not just paint rather than plate them?