Monday, March 16, 2009

Electronic Rust Protection Experiment.

Sure, everyone's heard of them, most interested parties have tried to find information online about them. We've read the forum posts, seen the testimonials and pictures of 4x4's being driven on the beach and awed at the scientific theory behind them. Despite all this, I noticed an incredible lack of evidence these things actually worked. On the flip side, I saw a lot of forum posts from sceptics who swear these things are a pile of BS, I had the impression these people had not used or tried the technology before and was left wondering if these things actually worked. This was the purpose of this blog. To prove or disprove the technology and put a silence to all the arguments with regards to Electronic Rust Protection technology.


So how am I going to run this blog? We'll I imagine this will be an on going project. This blog will be devoted to an experiment which I will document photographically on regular intervals. I will continue documenting this experiment until I am satisfied I have given the technology an adequate chance to prove or disprove itself.

Theory:
Very basically, Rust is caused when iron reacts with oxygen to form a layer of Iron oxide crystals. This from the Rust WIKI "

The rusting of iron is an electrochemical process that begins with the transfer of electrons from iron to oxygen.[3] The rate of corrosion is affected by water and accelerated by electrolytes, as illustrated by the effects of road salt on the corrosion of automobiles. The key reaction is the reduction of oxygen:

O2 + 4 e- + 2 H2O → 4 OH-

Because it forms hydroxide ions, this process is strongly affected by the presence of acid. Indeed, the corrosion of most metals by oxygen is accelerated at low pH. Providing the electrons for the above reaction is the oxidation of iron that may be described as follows:

Fe → Fe2+ + 2 e

The following redox reaction also occurs in the presence of water and is crucial to the formation of rust:

4 Fe2+ + O2 → 4 Fe3+ + 2 O2−[[1]]

Additionally, the following multistep acid-base reactions affect the course of rust formation:

Fe2+ + 2 H2O Fe(OH)2 + 2 H+

Fe3+ + 3 H2O Fe(OH)3 + 3 H+

as do the following dehydration equilibria:

Fe(OH)2 FeO + H2O

Fe(OH)3 FeO(OH) + H2O

2 FeO(OH) Fe2O3 + H2O

From the above equations, it is also seen that the corrosion products are dictated by the availability of water and oxygen. With limited dissolved oxygen, iron(II)-containing materials are favoured, including FeO and black lodestone (Fe3O4). High oxygen concentrations favour ferric materials with the nominal formulae Fe(OH)3-xOx/2. The nature of rust changes with time, reflecting the slow rates of the reactions of solids.

Furthermore, these complex processes are affected by the presence of other ions, such as Ca2+, which both serve as an electrolyte, and thus accelerate rust formation, or combine with the hydroxides and oxides of iron to precipitate a variety of Ca-Fe-O-OH species."

So how does Electronic Rust Protection Work?

I really did try to find a single consensus on how these things are supposed to work. I read all sorts of stories about how they turn cars into capacitors, tricking nature, blasting with electrons at high voltage etc. etc. Basically the general consensus is they turn your car into a capacitor and somehow this is supposed to retard rust. If you're after a more scientific explanation, you won't get one here. I seriously doubt anyone knows how these things actually work which has lead me and I’m sure many others to be sceptical about the technology.

Experiment (1)

Utensils used:

2x Cast Iron Pans

1x Car Battery

1x 0 gauge earth wire

1x Glotech Electronic Rust Prevention unit.

1x Bag of Sea Salt

1x Dishwasher

1x Dishwashing powder

2x cotton cloths

Theory:

Cast Iron is incredibly prone to rust. Installing a Rust protection Coupler device to one of the cast iron pans should minimize rust from "growing" on the pan.

Technique:

1) Take 2 cast iron pans. Clean the pans thoroughly with wire brush to remove any surface protectant (conditioner) from both pans.


2) Place pans in dishwasher and run through full cycle with dishwashing powder to remove any excess protectant from pans.

3) Remove rust from both pans after dishwashing with wire brush.


4)Rinse and dry both pans thoroughly with cotton cloth (new cloth for each pan)

5)Bathe both units pans in a saturated solution of salt water (More salt than will dissolve in the water).

6)Install Glotech rust protection device to one of the pans (Pan A).

7) Connect earth wire from negative pole of car battery to Pan A. This should simulate the way a car battery is connected to the chassis of a car.

8)Leave Pan B without any rust protection device or negative earth.

9) Move both devices to a cool environment.

10) Observe results, take photographs of changes to both pans and compare results over time.


Results :

Day 1) Rust is evident on both pans. However the Pan B appears to have a higher concentration of rust. See images below.


Day 2)
Again observed rust on both pans, again Pan B appears to have less rust evident. Pan A appears to have an area on top of which no rust is evident. Pan A also appears to have less rust evident on sides. See pictures below.

Day 3)

Rust beginning to cake on Pan B, rust pitting observed as well as large rust crystals on Pan B. Rust is sparser and more dappled on Pan A.

Day 4)

Further rust caking and crystallisation apparent on Pan B. Pan A appears to have thinner, more localized rust to certain locations around pan. See images for comparison of areas on both pans which display evidence of most significant rust.



Further, notice the "Rim" of pan a exhibits no or very little rust, while the rim of Pan B is completely covered. Also notice a large crystal of rust on Pan B in the centre of the first image.

Summary - Disclaimer

While I attempted to create the most uniform conditions possible in this experiment, certain factors were beyond my control. For instance I do not know if the Iron content in each subject was the same. I'd be surprised if although "cast iron", these pans are made up of other metals, the quantity of various metals in each possibly being different. Both pans were purchased at the same time however so I would assume they are of the same batch. Experiment was conducted over a period of 4 days. The experiment was conducted in my laundry. I instructed my partner to close the door of the laundry and to use the dryer as much as possible over this period to steam the environment up in order to create a more rust contusive environment. I can confirm the environment was very humid while wet clothes were being dried. This occurred twice daily (I have 2 baby daughters).

Conclusion

There is no doubt the Electronic rust protection system was effective in minimizing the rust on Pan A. Although pan A did rust significantly, this occurred at around half the speed of Pan B. I also noticed that Pan A did not rust as heavily as on Pan B where some caking and crystallization was evident towards the end of the experiment. A number of factors could be improved upon in the experiment. Firstly, pans are not cars. Secondly a controlled environment would not doubt help improve the accuracy of this test. Also the manufacturer claims the paint on a car acts as a dielectric which is supposed to create the capacitive coupler effect. My pans had no paint what so ever. Over the next month or so, I will have the pans painted as does a car and score the paint to simulate a scratch in car paint and re-test. Initial results however definitely favour the Electronic Rust Protection technology.

16 comments:

  1. Very well presented review though Im not sure how relevant thick cast iron pans are to the the reproduction of motor vehicle rust over a prolonged period of time as both exhibits appear rusty.

    I guess you could summarize that the pan with the stop rust gadget is less rusty than the one without but how is this evidence of car rust prevention over a prolonged time?

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  2. I'll keep you posted. Again like I said, I feel this will be an on going project. Cheers

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  3. Good stuff, thanks for taking the time to put together such a great experiment. Looking forward to see more posts. Cheers!

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  4. Any more info Googleboy? Well done so far!

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  5. Shouldn't pan b also have a negative earth attached? Cars without electronic rust proofing still have the wiring loom

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  6. All automobile frames are dipped in anti-rust solutions prior to the paint process. So, the body may get exposed if there is any form of damage thro' accidents or sharp object scrapping the underbody. This rust module is supposed to prevent those exposed region from rusting, if I am not mistaken. How effective it is, nothing has been proved...!

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  7. At Flexi pack we understand rust. It's no mystery where it comes from and there's certainly no doubt about the costly damage it can do to cars , commercial vehicles , buses and railway stock. This site is your guide to the best rust removal, rust protection, rust prevention and rust proofing treatments, construction adhesives and procedures to protect the structure of your vehicle.
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  8. Have you considered using steel wool for your trial, and considered the effect of occasional effect of rain with or without device to simulate condition of typical exposure of vehicles to water.

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  9. You experiment, although in good faith is not rigorous in showing if it is effective on cars or not. See my site for what the experts publish.
    http://cpengineer.com/Corrosion.Technical.html#CP_For_Cars

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  10. Wow! This is a very nice post and very informative. I like how it is thoroughly presented and very well discussed. Pan A did show a wonderful result compared to Pan B. However, it is not really a rust free guaranty but at least; it has less rust on it because of the rust protection used. -www.permalac.com

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  11. Why don't you get two equal pieces of auto tin from a body shop. I'm sure they would be cheaper than cast iron pans and more to the point. ( The body shop will probably give you the pieces if you share the results with them).
    Thanks for the informative article.

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  12. You should probably figure out some way to blind the experiment as well so that you evaluate the two pieces without knowing which is which, or have a blinded 3rd party evaluate them.

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  13. Hi. Give me a shout if you want to talk about where this stands now -- I'm doing a story on these products.

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  14. This experiment is flawed from the start. The technology being used is one that has been used on submerged steels for decades, but only works when submerged in water. You proved that, but since your car spends zero time fully submerged in water, these devices will not make any difference to your vehicle's resistance to rust

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  15. : You have to realise that you cannot do a visual quick test like this. Any bare metal is going to get a coating of surface rust over a few days, with or without the protection, but surface rust is actually not real rust, its actually a different chemical composition to pitted rust. Surface rust is not actual metal erosion, only an oxidation coating, our products are there to stop real pitted rust / metal erosion. You also have to remember that we are not impressing a current onto the metal, but rather holding a high charge / voltage which disrupts the rusting process and creates a stable metal state. So the pads should be placed onto a painted surface, not bare metal, as the paintwork helps hold the charge in place.

    The only way to test the product over a short period of time is in a proper salt fog and humidity chamber, which provides a controlled environment. We have (CAT Systems) invested in testing equipment of over $250,000 in order to do continuous testing and improvements to our products. Even with these, once testing is complete, you cannot rely on only a visual comparison, we weight the test plates to determine the metal loss and also use infrared photos to determine the metal erosion. I can assure you that we test these products extensively and over the last 25 years specialising in this technology we are confident that our systems are the most effective on the market. Please understand that its not possible to do a home made test like this one and get accurate results. I wish it was as it would make it much easier to convince the sceptics.

    Another very important point is that one of the factors that causes rust on today's vehicles is the fact that there are so many electrical and electronic connections which result in many stray currents which actually cause rust. Electricity can prevent rust, but it can also cause rust. So all testing should be done with an unprotected plate that is still connected to a battery, but not just connected, but have a variable load put through in order to simulate real life.
    If you have any questions relating to my comment please email me info@catsystems.org.nz or visit my website www.catsystems.org.nz

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