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Old 16-12-2020, 12:54   #16
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

Originally Posted by ohthetrees View Post
2) Is there any chance I'm doing more harm than good with this anode?

3) Any ideas why the OEM wouldn't deem an anode necessary on an expensive part like this in contact with sea-water? Do cupronickel heat exchangers typically have anodes? They do not normally have anodes.

Any anode gurus out there, I'd love your thoughts! Thanks!
Cupro-nickel in the presence of seawater is protected by a film:

The seawater corrosion resistance offered by copper-nickel alloys results from the formation of a thin, adherent, protective surface film which forms naturally and quickly upon exposure to clean seawater. The film is complex and predominantly comprises of cuprous oxide, often containing nickel and iron oxide, cuprous hydroxychloride and cupric oxide (2,3). The film can be brown, greenish brown or brownish black....

At higher temperatures, the film forms and matures faster...
And then from Bowman, an HX manufacturer that works with seawater HX and cupro-nickel:

Consequently, Bowman heat exchangers are supplied as standard with copper nickel alloy tubes, which eliminates the need for a zinc anode. In fact, were a zinc anode to be fitted to a Bowman heat exchanger, it could actually destroy the copper oxide film built up by the tube as a natural defence, allowing the tube surface to be attacked!
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Old 16-12-2020, 14:07   #17
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

Now that is an interesting post Dsanduril!
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Old 16-12-2020, 14:18   #18
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

Sea camp uses cupronickel and pencil zincs...
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Old 16-12-2020, 14:28   #19
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

Great discussion and answered many of my unasked questions too.

Thanks heaps everyone.
Love sailing but for me a Motor Cruiser is easier, hence "Happy Hour"
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Old 16-12-2020, 19:38   #20
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

The mysteries of electrolysis. Many years ago my header tank body just simply disintegrated blowing salt water over everything. Charming. The headertank/heat exchanger was bolted onto the engine block head. It transpired that the body was an aluminium alloy casting while the core was Cu Ni. It had worked well for many years because – according to the workshop chaps - the rubber rings that constrained the Cu Ni core to electrically isolate the core from the body, were doing their job (As well as sealing the end caps – which were cast iron!). This circuit became conductive due to “deposits” or aging of the engine coolant, thus completing the electrolysis circuit past the rubber rings and then rapid corrosion of the aluminium alloy ensued. There were no zinc blocks and it was pointed out to me that they would have done little in this case. Complicated, poor cheap engineering, prone to failure. Eh? “Maybe some poor maintenance as well!” My wife’s crystal clear remonstration rings sharply in my ears.

I replaced the entire header tank/heat exchanger with a Perkins version from a much larger engine that would not bolt onto my engine and so mounted this on the engine room wall thus probably electrically isolating it all from the engine. (A plumbing nightmare.)
The Perkins model has a bronze body with a Cu NI core. No zinc blocks fitted. The Cu Ni core makes physical and electrical contact with the header tank body. This year the headertank/heat exchanger was sent off for servicing. All was OK. The workshop guys advised against adding zinc blocks into the heat exchanger as they would just rapidly disappear and achieve little except create worry, but did recommend I install a good earth strap to the engine and install a zinc block back at the bronze seawater intake filter and also ensure that the filter body was earth strapped to the engine.
So far this year there have been no problems here.

It is also really important to use the correct engine coolant. There are a few variants particularly amongst the type A species. Usually the basic cheapest type B is spot on, but check with your local marine diesel expert. These coolants are often forgotten about but should be replaced every two years or whatever is recommended. Do an engine flush at the same time. The coolant type and chemical composition can affect electrolysis issues.

I also flush fresh water through the cooling system (just after the raw water filter).
When in the marina, I connect a garden hose from the jetty supply. At my intake filter I have a 12 mm bleeder valve to allow sea water in when relaunching the boat. From this valve there is a clear plastic hose rising to over 30 cm above the LWL so I can see if the raw sea water has flooded in. At the top end of this hose is where I have situated the fresh water hose snap on connection.
But the particular fittings used will depend on your particular plumbing arrangement but once installed it is all passive. If you do this, unsure you leave the sea cock open so you don’t expose the engine system to the mains supply water pressure. This flushing will also back wash the intake filter and change the salinity back to the intake valve thus probably reducing algae growth. With the fresh water flowing fast, run the engine up to temperature and then close down, engine first, then the fresh water. However this gratuitous advice is not of much use for your immediate concern, as the fresh water flow is usually through the heat exchanger core rather than the space between where the engine coolant resides.

The bottom line would seem that if the manufacture did not install zinc blocks then they are probably superfluous. If they did install them then they are presumably absolutely necessary and consulting the engine manual will put you on the right path. I think the real issue was related to the poor soldering of the fitting. Solder/brazing alloys are another land of the mysterious and can induce all sorts of problems in the presence of salt water. The Cu Ni heat exchanger cores are usually soldered at the ends and this is why you should at least have the core part checked. Any leaks here spells disaster as the engine coolant and the sea water then mix.
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Old 16-12-2020, 21:58   #21
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

Originally Posted by ohthetrees View Post
Teflon will electrically isolate the zinc, which means it won’t work at all. Just fyi, if you use similar techniques for your prop zincs, or anywhere else, I’d undo it right quick.
This is an internet myth!

The metal threads will cut through the tape and be electrically connected.

Try it for yourself, use teflon on the threads, tighten the zinc normally and use a ohm meter to measure the resistance between the zinc plug and the body of the HE.

This myth is repeated ad nauseam by car engine enthusiasts.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangereous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. T.E. Lawrence
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Old 17-12-2020, 02:29   #22
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Re: anode in heat exchanger - mistake?

Pencil anodes don’t last for a very long time. Six months tops for my generator.
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