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Old 16-05-2008, 14:26   #1
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Bright Spark electric anti-fouling system

The German sailing magazine "Palstek" has reported on the "Bright Spark" electric anti-fouling system which works with two copper anodes you hang from the bow and stern when in harbour / at anchor and hitch it up to your 12V system - Bright Spark. It then creates an electro-magnet field from front to back, extending some twenty metres across. Even for a cat you only need one system at 995 plus VAT. Seems to work great but only in salt water.

Does anyone have experience with this system?

Thanks
Roger
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Old 16-05-2008, 17:59   #2
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The German sailing magazine "Palstek" has reported on the "Bright Spark" electric anti-fouling system which works with two copper anodes you hang from the bow and stern when in harbour / at anchor and hitch it up to your 12V system ..

Does anyone have experience with this system?
No. But there was a thread similar to this a while back for a different system, I think. Any idea on how many amps this thing is supposed to draw? I wasn't able down load the PDF.
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Old 16-05-2008, 23:06   #3
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I made a comment about this system some time back. But I didn't know the name. I could not open the pdf either.
Just one mall correction, it is not an electro magnetic field that is created. It is (supposedly) a flow of copper from one copper anode to the other and thus a flow of copper ions are supposed to surround your hull. In my Opinion, I think it is a load of crap. However I am happy to be proven wrong. Here are the reasons I think it is rubbish.
Electricity flows through a conductor(in this case seawater) by electron movement. The electrical current flow measure at point to point is instant (speed of light ) but the the electron flow is slow. Very slow. It is easiest to think of it this way. Imagine a row of marbles say 10m long. You want to move the marbles along. You do this by taking the first marble out of the line and then the next marble falls into "hole" you just made and the next fills that hole and so on. But to keep the line moving, you have to take the first marble out and take it to the hole that last marble has now left and drop it in. You do that with each marble, over and over. So what you see is the entire line moving (that is current flow) but the first marble takes sometime to work it's way down the line to get to the end. That is electron flow. Even in a pure copper conductor like a electrical wire, the electron flow is measured in mm's per hr. It is very very low, because as you can imagine, if the marbles where electrons, the are atomicaly(if thats an actual word) small.
In the case of "electroplating" or Galvanic errosion, which is what this system actually is in a crude sort of way, is that a copper ion moves along the line in this case an electrolyte) tagged to an electron. Technically it's a little more complex than that description with Anions and Cations. But we won't go there.
In a perfect environment, the copper rod would eventually be eroded away (electrolysis, just like a Zinc) and moves along the current flow to the other rod. In this particular case, I am not sure why they use two copper rods (the same metal) as the cathode and electrode. In electroplating, you are taking the copper from the anode and it moves to the cathode. So the anode errodes away and the cathode grows. However, it is not a perfect environment. There is water movement. Thus the copper ions get taken away with the movement of water. This is the one reason why Zinc does not build up on say your neighbours boat or your marina berth etc. The zinc ions simply get taken away with the water flow to remain part of the electrolyte (or our seawater). So the slightest water movement would take the "cloud of copper Ions" away from the boat. You would need to have the boat in a captive environment so as the copper could build to a solution. So I don't really get this process at all.
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Old 17-05-2008, 22:21   #4
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Old 18-05-2008, 00:01   #5
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I don't know, but anything that creates electrical currents around my steel hull (apart from the zinc anodes of course), would make me nervous.
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Old 18-05-2008, 00:35   #6
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I agree with Allan, it does sound like a load of crap but it would be great to have someone prove me wrong.
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Old 20-05-2008, 14:28   #7
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No. But there was a thread similar to this a while back for a different system, I think. Any idea on how many amps this thing is supposed to draw? I wasn't able down load the PDF.
Maren, I have been informed that this systems draws a max. of 1 amp.
Roger
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Old 20-05-2008, 20:38   #8
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Maren, I have been informed that this systems draws a max. of 1 amp.
I suppose the ultimate test is it's efficacy. Were it to be quite effective -- far above the competition -- I think it would sell wildly and word would spread even more quickly. And that may be a telling sign.

It could also be a sign it's just really new. But if at one amp it could stop marine growth, even it were at the cost of totally corroding all metal in contact with water, well... I'd have a prop & shaft made of carbon fiber if need be.

It will be interesting to see what sort of reviews it gets.
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Old 22-05-2008, 18:41   #9
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I worked on a boat one time and as I was in the Engine space, I kept hearing a "tick-Tick" every 20-30 seconds or so. It got to be pretty annoying. I asked the owner what that noise was and he said it was an ultrasonic barnacle barrier.

Right>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>If it worked, the paint companies would be outta bidness.
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Old 25-05-2008, 03:13   #10
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Report on the system

Dear readers,

The system as described by you has been tested over a year and a half by a known Dutch maritine journalist. He bought he system and used it without any anti-fouling on his hull. The result after the period: NO growth at all. Article was presented in Motorboot November 2007. Also Dutch buoys are being equiped with the system to prevent unwanted growth in order to reduce maintenance costs.

About the possibility of galvanic corrosion. That can not occur as the system is electronically galvanic seperated and will not have any influence of the ship.
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Old 25-05-2008, 05:16   #11
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Well, Maurice, that's very interesting. No offense, but since this is your first post, and it is in defense of the system, are you in some way associated with the product?

Regardless of the answer, would you provide us with some links to the articles/reports?

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Old 25-05-2008, 10:27   #12
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About the possibility of galvanic corrosion. That can not occur as the system is electronically galvanic seperated and will not have any influence of the ship.
What does this mean?...separated. I know about galvanic corrosion, I have an aluminum work boat. Been there, done that.

What is the name of the Dutch maritime journalist?

Do you have a references or links other than one magazine article, in order to obtain more information? Without any sources it sounds like cold fusion to me. No offense intended, but it does. If the facts exist then please bring them to the light of day.
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Old 25-05-2008, 14:27   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maurice Tax View Post
Dear readers,

The system as described by you has been tested over a year and a half by a known Dutch maritine journalist. He bought he system and used it without any anti-fouling on his hull. The result after the period: NO growth at all. Article was presented in Motorboot November 2007. Also Dutch buoys are being equiped with the system to prevent unwanted growth in order to reduce maintenance costs.

About the possibility of galvanic corrosion. That can not occur as the system is electronically galvanic seperated and will not have any influence of the ship.
My first reaction was to go with Alan on this one. It sounds like a piece of crap and 995 is a sh*t load of money for a little black box that does nothing but generate a few watts of heat. I've spent the last 8 years working as a service engineer on marine electronics. All kinds of systems on everything from sailing boats to tankers and submarines. There are a few active anti fouling systems out there. One that was mentioned earlier is the one that works with ultra sound. The maritime administration here uses a system similar to the one this thread is about for cleaning bouys. The bouys are made of steel and the old way was to take them ashote and manually clean them. The new way is to put them into the water next to a steel plate, using the bouy for a cathode and the plate fore a anode, you run a current between them. That's more than 12V and 1 amp though. You practically boil it clean in under an hour. This is however a bit different since they're actually cleaning the cathode itself. I agree with Alan on the electron movement, it sounds very odd and I doubt that's the reason it works, IF it works.

I came up with an idea though. If it really is as simple as they say, and there's nothing more to it than the power source and the copper plates... Then there's no reason why we should buy their expensive equipment when we could make our own for only a few . It operates on 12V and uses 1 amp. It obviously needs to be galvanically separated or
1. It would eat a steel hull
2. It would eat the grounding plate for the SSB, or any other grounding plate
3. It would eat all the zink anodes
4. It would eat the prop and/or shaft

So, what we need is a few feet of cable, two copper plates and a 12-12V DC/DC power supply where the input is galvanically separated from the outpot. And oh yeah... It should be able to deliver 1 amp

Something like this. It costs around 30 http://www.elfa.se/pdf/69/06910681.pdf 9-18V in, 12V out and galvanically separeted.
As the current depends on the resistance in the water, and the resistance in the water depends on the salinity i.e. higher salinity > lower resistance > higher current, it's possible that we'll need a circuit to limit the current to around 1 amp, or whatever we feel like that's within the specs of the DC/DC converter. Build a limiting circuit of your own, if you need it, or buy one for a few more . Total cost estimtaed to 60. Put it all in a box, hang the plates over the sides, put the box in a "weather safe" location and boil away! If it works and you're happy and you still think it's worth spending 995 on, feel free to donate the remaining 935 to me

If anyone tries it, please let us know how it works. If anyone can come up with a good reason the 995 should be any better than the home made 60 system, please tell us! Good luck!


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Old 26-05-2008, 01:33   #14
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If anyone can come up with a good reason the 995€ should be any better than the home made 60€ system, please tell us!
Well there is one possibility. But I am asking you if you know. So the system has a copper rod at each end. OK if they are a cathode and anode, one will disappear and with that sort of current, I would suggest rather quickly. So my first question is (assuming the thing actually works) why do the rods last so long? So I am proposing that the system may actually pulse in two directions. Not AC, but DC, but alternating in alternate directions. So I wonder if there price comes from pulsing an alternating DC freq and the unit can sense the Salinity and temperature (via a feedback of resistance perhaps)and dial in how much current it needs to maintain a constant current flow. But then the copper (if it really does flow as a cloud around the hull) would have to......... Nah, the more I think about this, the more it sounds like pile of proverbial steaming smelly stuff.
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Old 27-05-2008, 15:06   #15
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Hello!

Yeah, I've been thinking about different ways. It could just regulate the current output to stay around 1A. What bothers me a bit is that someone specified 1A when asked how much power the equipment consumes. Does this figure come from the manufacturer? Why didn't they specify the consumption in Watts? Does it draw 1A continiously? 12 Watts? Anyway I did a few calculations. The electrical conductivity (EC) of Atlantic Water at a temperature of 25 degrees celsius is 43,000 uS/cm (micro Siemens), which means that the resistance in the same water is R = 1/EC i.e. R = (1/43000)*10^6 > R = 23.3 Ohm/cm. Let's say we have 10 meter (around 33 ft) yacht, just for the nice figures, that's 1000 cm. This gives us a total resistance of 23,300 ohms. If we disregard the shape of the hull and the fact that the electrons would have to take a detour around it. To obtain a current of 1A through the water we would thus need a current of U = R * I > U = 23,300 * 1. The output voltage would have to be 23,300 volts. Now, that's just insane as this would mean that the actual power consumtion is 23,300 Watts. this would on a 12 volt system mean 1,941 amps! Let's say it consumes 1 A and puts 12 volts through the water. tjis gives us a current through the water of 12/23300 = 0.51mA. The rest would be losses in the components. Maybe it's enough? Maybe it transforms the 12V to 24, 48 or anything else?

Maybe the system operates by pulsing a high voltage through the water? Much like an electrical fence. If that is so, a high voltage pulse generator for electrical fences only costs around 400 dollars and should be easy to connect to the copper rods. Only speculations, but I find the subject quite interesting.

Does anyone have any more info?

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