For more than 30 years, potassium fluoroaluminates (NOCOLOK®) fluxes are already successfully used in controlled atmosphere brazing (CAB) of aluminium heat exchangers. Residues of these so-called non-corrosive fluxes have very low – but evident – solubility in water  . In the discussion about corrosion of CAB produced aluminium heat exchangers, the flux residue solubility is an important parameter. There are concerns that – in addition to several other factors – fluoride ions (F–) potentially released from dissolved residue play a role in aluminium corrosion.
A theoretical option to address this point is the development of virtually insoluble flux. More realistic, however, will be fluxes with less soluble residues than the current compositions.
Some commercialised NOCOLOK® derivates, like NOCOLOK® Li Flux show already reduced solubility when compared to the standard product . While investigating the chemical possibilities for further minimising the residue solubility and the release of F- ions, we have developed NOCOLOK® variants in combination with selected inorganic fluorides.
During this R&D project we also looked closely at the brazing properties of the new fluxes – with a focus on their performance for brazing of aluminium alloys with higher magnesium level. The current maximum magnesium range suitable for CAB with standard NOCOLOK® Flux is approximately 0.3%. Some improvement can be seen when using caesium-containing NOCOLOK® formulations (up to 0.5% Mg)  . Some of the new fluxes we developed for further reduced residue solubility surprisingly show higher magnesium tolerance. This article summarizes the results of our laboratory work related to the development of fluxes with further reduced residue fluorides solubility and improved magnesium tolerance.
Basic experimental laboratory procedures
1. Lab brazing and alloy specimen setup
For experimental lab furnace brazing we used standard CAB brazing profile and 25 by 25 mm clad sheet coupons (single side) with angle on top. In case of the Mg topic an AMAG (Austria Metal AG) clad alloy (6951/4343) was brazed with an AMAG clad-less angle. Fluxing was done manually (flux load weight on precision scale, drops of isopropanol and homogenous spreading).
2. Solubility data generation
Coupon (3003/4343) with Al angle (Al 99.5%) were manually coated with a dedicated amount of flux blend and brazed as described in point 1. Brazed samples were placed in PET bottles and a defined quantity of demineralised water was added. Daily visual control and air exposure (by opening and closing the lid) was done.
To be continued…
P Garcia et al, Solubility Characteristics of Potassium Fluoroaluminate Flux and Residues, 2nd Int. Alum. Congress HVAC&R, Dusseldorf (2011)
P Garcia et al., Solubility and Hydrolysis of Fluoroaluminates in Post-Braze Flux Residue, 13th AFC Holcroft Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, Novi (2008)
J Garcia et al, Brazeability of Aluminium Alloys Containing Magnesium by CAB Process Using Cs Flux, VTMS5, 2001-01-1763 (2001)
H Johannson et al, Controlled Atmosphere Brazing of Heat Treatable Alloys With Cesium Flux, VTMS6 C599/03/2003 (2003)
Handbook of Chemistry and Physics; Ref. BaSO4: 0.0025 g/l
U Seseke, Structure and Effect – Mechanism of Flux Containing Cesium, 2nd Int. Alum. Brazing Con., Düsseldorf (2002)