Technical Information by Leszek Orman, Hans-Walter Swidersky and Daniel Lauzon

Abstract

For just as long as aluminium has been used for brazing heat exchangers, there has been a trend to down-gauging components for weight savings. The most common alloying element to achieve higher strength alloys for the purpose of down-gauging is magnesium. While magnesium additions are helpful in achieving stronger alloys, the consequence is a decrease in brazeability. This article discusses the mechanism of brazing deterioration with the addition of magnesium and proposes the use of caesium compounds as a way of combating these effects.

We split the article in five parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Effects of Mg on the Brazing Process
  3. Mechanism of Magnesium Interaction with the Brazing Process
  4. Caesium Fluoroaluminates
  5. NOCOLOK® Cs Flux

NOCOLOK® Cs Flux

As a more practical means of obtaining better brazeability of Mg containing alloys, a mixture of standard NOCOLOK® Flux and caesium fluoroaluminates is used. The positive influence of Cs on brazing magnesium containing alloys was previously reported in a patent for a product where potassium fluoroaluminates were mixed with caesium fluoroaluminates [11]. However, this patent covered a rather wide ratio of potassium fluoroaluminates to caesium fluoroaluminates.

The influence of actual elemental Cs content on brazeability was investigated by Garcia et al [12]. Brazeability was determined by the length of the joint obtained in a system with a gradual increase in gap clearance (similar in concept to the one shown in Fig. 1). In their work they used 6063 alloy with a Mg content of 0.66 wt%. Their major finding is presented in Fig. 6.

fig-6

Fig. 6: Brazeability of AA6063 alloy as a function of caesium content at flux load of 5 g/m2 [12].

As seen in Fig. 5, even a relatively low concentration of Cs in the flux mixture improves brazeability of an alloy containing 0.66 wt% Mg. An increase of Cs concentration above 2 wt% does not lead to further improvement in brazeability. In his work Garcia et al also confirmed that faster heating rates, though positive do not significantly influence brazeability.

This work led to another important finding. By brazing small sample radiators in an industrial type furnace, Garcia et al established a practical threshold for Mg content. The flux containing 2 wt% Cs is effective for brazing aluminium alloys with 0.35% to 0.5 % Mg. At lower levels of magnesium no difference between the standard flux and the 2 wt% Cs flux was observed. Brazing samples containing 0.66% of magnesium yielded leak free parts – but the brazing ratio for fins was not fully satisfactory.

This work led to the standardization of Solvay’s NOCOLOK® Cs Flux at 2 wt% Cs. By using this minimal but effective Cs concentration in the mixture, the chemical and physical characteristics are similar to the standard flux.

Summary

  • Magnesium is very often added to aluminium alloys to increase strength and machinability.
  • The addition of magnesium negatively influences the brazing process due to the formation of smaller fillets and the presence of porosity in the joints. This is due to (a) magnesium diffusing to the surface during the brazing cycle and forming Mg containing oxides which are more difficult to remove by the molten flux and (b) by poisoning the action of flux through the formation of K-Mg-F compounds.
  • The above effect can be made less pronounced when standard NOCOLOK® Flux is mixed with a caesium aluminium fluoride complex. At a concentration of 2 wt% Cs one can observe a positive effect on aluminium alloys containing magnesium. Increasing the Cs content above 2 wt% does not yield any further increase in brazeability.
  • NOCOLOK® Cs Flux works effectively for alloys containing roughly 0.3 to 0.5 wt% Mg. Depending on specific design and process conditions, Cs containing fluxes can also offer benefits for alloys containing 0.3 wt% or even less Mg. For concentrations higher than 0.5 wt% of Mg, the effectiveness of Cs compounds in non-corrosive fluxes gradually decreases.
  • Pure caesium aluminium fluoride complex is effectively used for flame brazing where a lower melting point flux is required.

Download the complete article as a PDF-File.


References:

  1. S. W. Haller, “A new Generation of Heat Exchanger Materials and Products”, 6th International Congress “Aluminum Brazing” Düsseldorf, Germany 2010
  2. R. Woods, “CAB Brazing Metallurgy”, 12th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2007
  3. T. Stenqvist, K. Lewin, R. Woods “A New Heat-treatable Fin Alloy for Use with Cs-bearing CAB flux” 7th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2002
  4. R. K. Bolingbroke, A. Gray, D. Lauzon, “Optimisation of Nocolok Brazing Conditions for Higher Strength Brazing Sheet”, SAE Technical Paper 971861, 1997
  5. M. Yamaguchi, H. Kawase and H. Koyama, ‘‘Brazeability of Al-Mg Alloys in Non Corrosive Flux Brazing’’, Furukawa review, No. 12, p. 139 – 144 (1993).
  6. A. Gray, A. Afseth, 2nd International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, 2002
  7. H. Johansson, T. Stenqvist, H. Swidersky “Controlled Atmosphere Brazing of Heat Treatable Alloys with Cs Flux” VTMS6, Conference Proceedings, 2002
  8. U. Seseke-Koyro ‘‘New Developments in Non-corrosive Fluxes for Innovative Brazing’’, First International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2000
  9. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,689,092; Date of Patent: Aug. 25, 1987
  10. L. Orman, “Basic Metallurgy for Aluminum Brazing”, Materials for EABS & Solvay Fluor GmbH 11th Technical Training Seminar – The Theory and Practice of the Furnace and Flame Brazing of Aluminium, Hannover, 2012
  11. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,670,067; Date of Patent: Jun. 2, 1987
  12. J. Garcia, C. Massoulier, and P. Faille, “Brazeability of Aluminum Alloys Containing Magnesium by CAB Process Using Cesium Flux,” SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-1763, 2001

Technical Information by Leszek Orman, Hans-Walter Swidersky and Daniel Lauzon

Abstract

For just as long as aluminium has been used for brazing heat exchangers, there has been a trend to down-gauging components for weight savings. The most common alloying element to achieve higher strength alloys for the purpose of down-gauging is magnesium. While magnesium additions are helpful in achieving stronger alloys, the consequence is a decrease in brazeability. This article discusses the mechanism of brazing deterioration with the addition of magnesium and proposes the use of caesium compounds as a way of combating these effects.

We split the article in five parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Effects of Mg on the Brazing Process
  3. Mechanism of Magnesium Interaction with the Brazing Process
  4. Caesium Fluoroaluminates
  5. NOCOLOK® Cs Flux

Caesium Fluoroaluminates

Magnesium is an extremely reactive element and therefore even a small amount of oxygen will cause its oxidation. In standard brazing furnaces most often the level of oxygen in the furnace atmosphere at the temperature ranges below brazing could be relatively high. Thus the formation of magnesium oxides seems to be inevitable. On the other hand, one can think about neutralizing or inhibiting the formation of the poisoning potassium magnesium fluoride compounds mentioned earlier. The formation of those compounds can be reduced in the presence of caesium fluoroaluminate compounds

Caesium fluoroaluminates exist in several compositions and crystallographic states such as CsAlF4, Cs[AlF4 (H2O)2], Cs2AlF5, Cs2AlF5 H2O, Cs3AlF6. The Cs compound commonly used for aluminium brazing contains mainly CsAlF4 and is also known as CsAlF – Complex.

Cs acts as a chemical scavenger for Mg. During the brazing process, caesium reacts with magnesium to form compounds such as CsMgF3 and/or Cs4Mg3F10 [8]. These compounds melt at lower temperatures than the filler metal. As such these compounds do not significantly interfere with aluminium brazing and allow the flux to retain much of its oxide dissolution and wetting capability.

The caesium fluoroaluminate complex has a low melting range (420 – 480°C), a high water solubility (~20 g/l at 20°C), and contains between 54 – 59 % of elemental caesium. Though there are literature references for using the pure Cs-complex as a brazing flux [9], the chemical characteristics present practical problems when one would like to replace standard NOCOLOK® Flux with pure caesium fluoroaluminates complex. The low melting range means that under normal CAB process conditions the flux would essentially dry out by evaporation before reaching the brazing temperature (~ 600oC). Furthermore, the high content of Cs makes it prohibitively expensive as a replacement for standard NOCOLOK® Flux.

However the Cs complex does find a use in several applications such as flame and induction brazing and as a key component of flux paste formulations for specialty alloys. In some processes, mainly flame brazing of copper and aluminium, this complex is the state of the art [10].

Aluminium and copper form a low melting eutectic (546°C). This means that it is not possible to braze copper and aluminium in a CAB process using standard filler metal alloys having a melting range from 577°C to 605°C. It is however possible to join aluminium and copper by flame brazing, but it requires high degree of temperature control and a lower melting filler alloy is recommended. Zinc-aluminium alloys are commonly used for such applications. Lower melting range filler alloys require lower melting range fluxes and since flux consumption for flame brazing is relatively low, it is economically feasible to use a caesium fluoroaluminate complex such as CsAlF4.

Download the complete article as a PDF-File.


References:

  1. S. W. Haller, “A new Generation of Heat Exchanger Materials and Products”, 6th International Congress “Aluminum Brazing” Düsseldorf, Germany 2010
  2. R. Woods, “CAB Brazing Metallurgy”, 12th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2007
  3. T. Stenqvist, K. Lewin, R. Woods “A New Heat-treatable Fin Alloy for Use with Cs-bearing CAB flux” 7th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2002
  4. R. K. Bolingbroke, A. Gray, D. Lauzon, “Optimisation of Nocolok Brazing Conditions for Higher Strength Brazing Sheet”, SAE Technical Paper 971861, 1997
  5. M. Yamaguchi, H. Kawase and H. Koyama, ‘‘Brazeability of Al-Mg Alloys in Non Corrosive Flux Brazing’’, Furukawa review, No. 12, p. 139 – 144 (1993).
  6. A. Gray, A. Afseth, 2nd International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, 2002
  7. H. Johansson, T. Stenqvist, H. Swidersky “Controlled Atmosphere Brazing of Heat Treatable Alloys with Cs Flux” VTMS6, Conference Proceedings, 2002
  8. U. Seseke-Koyro ‘‘New Developments in Non-corrosive Fluxes for Innovative Brazing’’, First International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2000
  9. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,689,092; Date of Patent: Aug. 25, 1987
  10. L. Orman, “Basic Metallurgy for Aluminum Brazing”, Materials for EABS & Solvay Fluor GmbH 11th Technical Training Seminar – The Theory and Practice of the Furnace and Flame Brazing of Aluminium, Hannover, 2012
  11. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,670,067; Date of Patent: Jun. 2, 1987
  12. J. Garcia, C. Massoulier, and P. Faille, “Brazeability of Aluminum Alloys Containing Magnesium by CAB Process Using Cesium Flux,” SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-1763, 2001

Technical Information by Leszek Orman, Hans-Walter Swidersky and Daniel Lauzon

Abstract

For just as long as aluminium has been used for brazing heat exchangers, there has been a trend to down-gauging components for weight savings. The most common alloying element to achieve higher strength alloys for the purpose of down-gauging is magnesium. While magnesium additions are helpful in achieving stronger alloys, the consequence is a decrease in brazeability. This article discusses the mechanism of brazing deterioration with the addition of magnesium and proposes the use of caesium compounds as a way of combating these effects.

We split the article in five parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Effects of Mg on the Brazing Process
  3. Mechanism of Magnesium Interaction with the Brazing Process
  4. Caesium Fluoroaluminates
  5. NOCOLOK® Cs Flux

Mechanism of Magnesium Interaction with the Brazing Process

According to M. Yamaguchi et al [5], when magnesium diffuses to the surface during brazing, a chemical reaction takes place with the flux resulting in the generation of KMgF3.

The authors suggest the following equations to explain some of the chemical interactions between magnesium and K1-3AlF4-6 flux:

  • 3 MgO + 2 KAlF4  →  MgF2 + 2 KMgF3 + Al2O3  (a)
  • 3 MgO + 2 KAlF4  →  2 MgF2 + K2MgF4 + Al2O3  (b)
  • 3 MgO + 2 K3AlF6 > →  3 K2MgF4 + Al2O3  (3)

By performing XRD (X-ray Diffraction) phase identification on products brazed with Mg containing alloys, A. Gray et al [6] confirmed the presence of K2MgF4, spinel oxide (Al2MgO4) and possibly KMgF3. These magnesium containing compounds have a characteristic needle like morphology as shown in Fig. 5.

fig-5

Fig. 5: Morphology of magnesium containing compounds as seen by Scanning Electron Microscope [6].

H. Johansson et al [7] also determined that at temperatures above 425°C the magnesium diffusion to the surface is very rapid resulting in the formation of magnesium oxide (MgO) and spinel oxides (Al2MgO4). These oxides have very low solubility in NOCOLOK® Flux. Subsequently these magnesium oxides react with the flux resulting in the formation of magnesium fluoride (MgF2) and potassium magnesium fluorides (KMgF3, K2MgF4, see equations a), b), and c)). These reactions change the flux chemical composition causing its melting range to rise. The melting point of these magnesium fluorides is very high, which in turn drives the melting point of the flux upwards, thereby decreasing the activity of the flux. The above factors also cause a decrease in the flowing characteristics of the flux thus lowering its overall effectiveness. Therefore the desired key point to limit the flux poisoning effect would be to reduce the formation of magnesium oxides and potassium magnesium fluorides.

Download the complete article as a PDF-File.


References:

  1. S. W. Haller, “A new Generation of Heat Exchanger Materials and Products”, 6th International Congress “Aluminum Brazing” Düsseldorf, Germany 2010
  2. R. Woods, “CAB Brazing Metallurgy”, 12th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2007
  3. T. Stenqvist, K. Lewin, R. Woods “A New Heat-treatable Fin Alloy for Use with Cs-bearing CAB flux” 7th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2002
  4. R. K. Bolingbroke, A. Gray, D. Lauzon, “Optimisation of Nocolok Brazing Conditions for Higher Strength Brazing Sheet”, SAE Technical Paper 971861, 1997
  5. M. Yamaguchi, H. Kawase and H. Koyama, ‘‘Brazeability of Al-Mg Alloys in Non Corrosive Flux Brazing’’, Furukawa review, No. 12, p. 139 – 144 (1993).
  6. A. Gray, A. Afseth, 2nd International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, 2002
  7. H. Johansson, T. Stenqvist, H. Swidersky “Controlled Atmosphere Brazing of Heat Treatable Alloys with Cs Flux” VTMS6, Conference Proceedings, 2002
  8. U. Seseke-Koyro ‘‘New Developments in Non-corrosive Fluxes for Innovative Brazing’’, First International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2000
  9. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,689,092; Date of Patent: Aug. 25, 1987
  10. L. Orman, “Basic Metallurgy for Aluminum Brazing”, Materials for EABS & Solvay Fluor GmbH 11th Technical Training Seminar – The Theory and Practice of the Furnace and Flame Brazing of Aluminium, Hannover, 2012
  11. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,670,067; Date of Patent: Jun. 2, 1987
  12. J. Garcia, C. Massoulier, and P. Faille, “Brazeability of Aluminum Alloys Containing Magnesium by CAB Process Using Cesium Flux,” SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-1763, 2001

Technical Information by Leszek Orman, Hans-Walter Swidersky and Daniel Lauzon

Abstract

For just as long as aluminium has been used for brazing heat exchangers, there has been a trend to down-gauging components for weight savings. The most common alloying element to achieve higher strength alloys for the purpose of down-gauging is magnesium. While magnesium additions are helpful in achieving stronger alloys, the consequence is a decrease in brazeability. This article discusses the mechanism of brazing deterioration with the addition of magnesium and proposes the use of caesium compounds as a way of combating these effects.

We split the article in five parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Effects of Mg on the Brazing Process
  3. Mechanism of Magnesium Interaction with the Brazing Process
  4. Caesium Fluoroaluminates
  5. NOCOLOK® Cs Flux

Effects of Mg on the Brazing Process

To illustrate the effects of Mg on the brazing process, Bolingbroke et al [4] chose the angle-on-coupon method. In this technique, an aluminium angle is laid on top of a cladded aluminium coupon where the legs of the angle are raised using stainless steel wire (see Fig. 1). Brazeability is thus measured as a function of the length of the fillet formed. In this set of experiments, the coupon base alloy is 3003 with Mg additions ranging from 0.1 to 0.58 w%. Only the coupon was fluxed at pre-defined loads ranging from 2 to 10 g/m2. The results of the Mg content on brazeability are shown in Fig. 2.

fig-1

Fig. 1: Experimental set up for brazeability measurement [4].

fig-2

Fig. 2: Brazeability as a function of magnesium content [4].

Fig. 2 shows that increasing the flux load can reduce the negative influence of magnesium.

The solid state diffusion is time-temperature dependent and becomes rapid above 425°C. Thus brazing at higher heating rates should reduce the negative influence of Mg. The influence of heating rate on brazeability is shown in Fig. 3.

fig-3

Fig. 3: Brazeability of 3003 alloy + 0.31 wt% Mg as a function of heating rate and flux load [4].

The influence of heating rates when kept within the values attainable for the CAB process is rather weak. Increasing the flux load is more effective in combating the negative influence of Mg for CAB processes.

In flame or induction brazing, where the heating rates are about two orders of magnitude higher than in the CAB process, alloys with Mg concentration even as high as 2% can be successfully brazed.

It should be noted that when one speaks of the brazing tolerance to Mg, it is always the total sum of the Mg concentrations in both components:

[Mg] component 1 + [Mg] component 2 = [Mg] total   (1)

The effect of magnesium content on the appearance of the brazed joint is shown in Fig. 4.

fig-4

Fig. 4: Effect of Mg content on appearance of brazed joint [4].

At 0.1 wt% in the base coupon, the fillet is large and joining is complete. At 0.4 wt% Mg in the base coupon, the fillet volume is smaller.

Download the complete article as a PDF-File.


References:

  1. S. W. Haller, “A new Generation of Heat Exchanger Materials and Products”, 6th International Congress “Aluminum Brazing” Düsseldorf, Germany 2010
  2. R. Woods, “CAB Brazing Metallurgy”, 12th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2007
  3. T. Stenqvist, K. Lewin, R. Woods “A New Heat-treatable Fin Alloy for Use with Cs-bearing CAB flux” 7th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2002
  4. R. K. Bolingbroke, A. Gray, D. Lauzon, “Optimisation of Nocolok Brazing Conditions for Higher Strength Brazing Sheet”, SAE Technical Paper 971861, 1997
  5. M. Yamaguchi, H. Kawase and H. Koyama, ‘‘Brazeability of Al-Mg Alloys in Non Corrosive Flux Brazing’’, Furukawa review, No. 12, p. 139 – 144 (1993).
  6. A. Gray, A. Afseth, 2nd International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, 2002
  7. H. Johansson, T. Stenqvist, H. Swidersky “Controlled Atmosphere Brazing of Heat Treatable Alloys with Cs Flux” VTMS6, Conference Proceedings, 2002
  8. U. Seseke-Koyro ‘‘New Developments in Non-corrosive Fluxes for Innovative Brazing’’, First International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2000
  9. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,689,092; Date of Patent: Aug. 25, 1987
  10. L. Orman, “Basic Metallurgy for Aluminum Brazing”, Materials for EABS & Solvay Fluor GmbH 11th Technical Training Seminar – The Theory and Practice of the Furnace and Flame Brazing of Aluminium, Hannover, 2012
  11. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,670,067; Date of Patent: Jun. 2, 1987
  12. J. Garcia, C. Massoulier, and P. Faille, “Brazeability of Aluminum Alloys Containing Magnesium by CAB Process Using Cesium Flux,” SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-1763, 2001

Technical Information by Leszek Orman, Hans-Walter Swidersky and Daniel Lauzon

Abstract

For just as long as aluminium has been used for brazing heat exchangers, there has been a trend to down-gauging components for weight savings. The most common alloying element to achieve higher strength alloys for the purpose of down-gauging is magnesium. While magnesium additions are helpful in achieving stronger alloys, the consequence is a decrease in brazeability. This article discusses the mechanism of brazing deterioration with the addition of magnesium and proposes the use of caesium compounds as a way of combating these effects.

We split the article in five parts:

  1. Introduction
  2. Effects of Mg on the Brazing Process
  3. Mechanism of Magnesium Interaction with the Brazing Process
  4. Caesium Fluoroaluminates
  5. NOCOLOK® Cs Flux

Introduction

Aluminium brazing using non-corrosive fluxes is the leading process for manufacturing automotive heat exchangers. Recently, this process has become more wide spread in the stationary Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration (HVAC&R) industry, both for domestic and commercial applications. The standard brazing process involves joining of components with a brazing alloy, typically an aluminium-silicon filler alloy. Al-Si brazing alloys have melting ranges from 577°C to 610°C, which is appreciably lower than the melting point range of the base aluminium alloys used for heat exchangers (630°C – 660°C). Fluoride-based non-corrosive fluxes of the system KF-AlF3 are used to displace the surface oxide film during the brazing process. A commonly used non-corrosive flux of the general formula K1-3AlF4-6 is known under the trademark name NOCOLOK® Flux with a melting range between 565°C and 572°C. The flux works by melting and disrupting the oxide film on aluminium, protecting the surfaces from re-oxidizing during brazing thus allowing the Al-Si brazing alloy to flow freely.

A consistent and on-going trend across all heat exchanger manufacturing sectors is towards lighter weight, accomplished by down-gauging of components. Also corrosion resistance is a key factor – particularly when there is no additional post brazing coating or treatment. These often contradictory trends call for aluminium alloys having higher and higher post brazed strength. While alloys from the 7xxx (alloyed with Zn) and 2xxx (alloyed with Cu) series can be precipitation hardened to the highest strengths of any aluminium alloys, their corrosion resistance without any additional coating is low and their solidus temperatures are below the melting range of currently used flux and filler metal combinations, and therefore they are not suitable for heat exchanger manufacturing by brazing.

The most common alloys used for aluminium brazing are from the 3xxx series (alloyed with Mn). After being subjected to the high temperature during the brazing cycle, these alloys have relatively low post-braze mechanical strength. Higher strength is offered by alloys from the 5xxx series (alloyed with 2 to 5 wt% Mg) where post brazed strengthening is achieved by solid solution hardening or by the 6xxx series (alloyed with Mg and Si) which can be precipitation hardened. A more comprehensive survey of mechanical properties of brazeable aluminium alloys is presented in [1]. It is worth observing that the brazing cycle itself could be considered as a thermal treatment for obtaining the precipitation hardening effect providing the cooling rate from the brazing temperature is sufficiently fast [2]. An example of such an alloy designated for specific use for aluminium brazed heat exchangers is described in detail in [3].

As well as increasing post-braze mechanical strength, the addition of Mg to certain alloys allows for improved machinability. Machining is necessary for heat exchanger components such as connecting blocks and threaded fittings.

There is however a certain limitation with the above mentioned alloys. They all contain magnesium. During the brazing cycle Mg negatively influences the process of oxide removal and it is generally accepted that Mg levels only up to 0.3% can be safely brazed with the standard brazing flux. This negative influence can be mitigated with the use of caesium containing compounds. The mechanism of Mg interference with the brazing process and the positive role of Cs additions to the flux in combating the effects of Mg are the subjects of the current paper.

To be continued soon…

Download the complete article as a PDF-File.


References:

  1. S. W. Haller, “A new Generation of Heat Exchanger Materials and Products”, 6th International Congress “Aluminum Brazing” Düsseldorf, Germany 2010
  2. R. Woods, “CAB Brazing Metallurgy”, 12th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2007
  3. T. Stenqvist, K. Lewin, R. Woods “A New Heat-treatable Fin Alloy for Use with Cs-bearing CAB flux” 7th Annual International Invitational Aluminum Brazing Seminar, AFC Holcroft, NOVI, Michigan U.S.A. 2002
  4. R. K. Bolingbroke, A. Gray, D. Lauzon, “Optimisation of Nocolok Brazing Conditions for Higher Strength Brazing Sheet”, SAE Technical Paper 971861, 1997
  5. M. Yamaguchi, H. Kawase and H. Koyama, ‘‘Brazeability of Al-Mg Alloys in Non Corrosive Flux Brazing’’, Furukawa review, No. 12, p. 139 – 144 (1993).
  6. A. Gray, A. Afseth, 2nd International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, 2002
  7. H. Johansson, T. Stenqvist, H. Swidersky “Controlled Atmosphere Brazing of Heat Treatable Alloys with Cs Flux” VTMS6, Conference Proceedings, 2002
  8. U. Seseke-Koyro ‘‘New Developments in Non-corrosive Fluxes for Innovative Brazing’’, First International Congress Aluminium Brazing, Düsseldorf, Germany, 2000
  9. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,689,092; Date of Patent: Aug. 25, 1987
  10. L. Orman, “Basic Metallurgy for Aluminum Brazing”, Materials for EABS & Solvay Fluor GmbH 11th Technical Training Seminar – The Theory and Practice of the Furnace and Flame Brazing of Aluminium, Hannover, 2012
  11. K. Suzuki, F. Miura, F. Shimizu; United States Patent; Patent Number: 4,670,067; Date of Patent: Jun. 2, 1987
  12. J. Garcia, C. Massoulier, and P. Faille, “Brazeability of Aluminum Alloys Containing Magnesium by CAB Process Using Cesium Flux,” SAE Technical Paper 2001-01-1763, 2001

Making fire from water is a seemingly insoluble contradiction – but in 2014 the project will hit the markets.

Instead of propane or acetylene, hydrogen is burnt, which in turn is produced from water in an electrolyzer. Also, the oxygen for the combustion arises from the chemical decomposition. The portable unit requires a standard 220 volt outlet and plenty of water. Therefore, no pressure cylinders for fuel gas and oxygen are required.

Safe-Flame

In addition, the flame burns much more smoothly and the hot spot is located outside of the burner head. The first tests, brazing aluminum, have been completed successfully.

The Safe Flame project is supported by the EU and actively supported by 11 partners, including EABS (The European Association for Brazing and Soldering).

Solvay supporting EABS technical awareness days for the joining of aluminium and copper piping in the huge global HVACR market. These will commence in January 2014 and run through out the year and will include ALL flames for brazing Al/Al, Al/Cu and Cu/Cu together with appropriate brazing alloys and fluxes.

For further information either contact Solvay or EABS.

Safe-Flame-Logo

A video and more information can be found on Euronews.com

euronews-video

1. Preparation and Application

This article provides information about the application of binder systems for NOCOLOK Flux.

Solvay offers three concepts for flux binder application:

  • NOCOLOK Binder (water-soluble) / NOCOLOK Thickener (water-soluble)
  • NOCOLOK System Binder (water-based)
  • NOCOLOK Flux plus Binder Mixture (water-based)

These products can be used in water-based NOCOLOK Flux slurries to improve flux particle adhesion. This is of particular interest for fluxing of pre-formed components prior to assembly in order to reduce flux fall-off and dust formation. Binders are also helpful to pre-coat certain areas with specific flux loads. All binder mixtures can be applied on external and internal surfaces.

During the brazing cycle, these binders will completely evaporate (mostly between 350 and 400°C). When used as described below, there will neither be detrimental interactions between the binder and the flux, nor between the binder and the aluminum surfaces. Trials have shown that even at four-times the standard flux load with a binder mixture there was still no surface discoloration after brazing.

2. General Comments

The surface areas to be coated with binder mixtures must be free of lubricants, oils, dirt, and dust. Means of application include spraying, dipping, and brushing.

All NOCOLOK Flux binder mixtures can be applied by spraying with a suitable spray gun (1.4 mm – 1.6 mm) at approximately 3 – 5 bar pressure.

The surface temperature should be at least 10°C.

When binders are used for flux application, the recommended flux load for good brazing results is the same as it is for the standard process (i.e. between 3 – 5 g/m2). The thickness of the binder coating is usually between 10 – 30 μm.

Drying can be done in air – requiring approximately 15 – 20 minutes at room temperature for the coating surface – and 50 – 60 minutes before the parts can be handled. Oven and forced convection drying is feasible too: at 50 – 80 °C, parts will dry within 5 – 20 minutes.

Please refer to the MSDS for detailed information regarding the safe handling of the product.

3. Preparation of Binder Mixtures

For all binder concepts and preparations, the mixtures should be prepared or opened immediately before consumption.

To prepare a mixture free of agglomerates and to achieve best coating results, the following procedures must be observed for either binder concepts:

  • NOCOLOK Binder / NOCOLOK Thickener
    • 45 parts (wt%) de-ionized water (as used for preparing standard flux slurries) is mixed thoroughly with
    • 15 parts (wt%) NOCOLOK Binder (water-soluble) and
    • 5 parts (wt%) NOCOLOK Thickener (water-soluble).
    • Once the first three components are completely homogenized,
    • 35 parts (wt%) NOCOLOK Flux powder are added successively under continuous agitation.
  • NOCOLOK System Binder
    • NOCOLOK System Binder (water-based) already contains the binder and thickener component as well as water. Consequently, only NOCOLOK Flux powder must be added.
    • 65 parts (wt%) NOCOLOK System Binder (water-based) plus
    • 35 parts (wt%) NOCOLOK Flux.
  • NOCOLOK Flux plus Binder Mixture
    • NOCOLOK Flux plus Binder Mixture (water-based) is a ready-for-use preparation containing NOCOLOK Binder, NOCOLOK Thickener and NOCOLOK Flux powder.

If necessary, the mixtures can be passed through a sieve prior to use. This will remove any potential agglomerates.

Prior to use the flux powder in the mixture must be suspended. The thickener will prevent the flux powder from settling too fast, however, when stored for some time or diluted, the mixture must be well shaken before spraying.

The binder component is activated by oxygen from air. Once sprayed and dried, the product cannot be recycled or reused.

Any remaining flux / binder mixture should be stored in an airtight and sealed container. We recommend consuming the mixtures within one week after mixing.

4. Additional Information:

  • NOCOLOK Binder, -Thickener, and –System Binder are compatible for standard NOCOLOK Flux, -LM Flux, -Cs Flux, and -Sil Flux. They are not suitable for NOCOLOK CB Flux and -Zn Flux due to chemical reactions between these fluxes and the ingredients.
  • The formulations (mixing ratios) provided in Solvay’s technical information sheets and brochures are intended as general recommendations – They provide the best basis for automated spray application and have been tested with good brazing results.
  • The recipes can be adjusted to specific application needs by changing the mixing ratios within certain ranges.
  • A well balanced ratio of binder and thickener to flux in the mixtures is important for good brazing performance:
  • Higher binder ratios result in a harder coating layer and stronger flux adhesion. But they require more care for the binder removal step.
  • Very high binder and/ or thickener ratios increase the organic content in the mixture – which may result in carbon residues (discoloration) after brazing.
  • It is possible to reduce and/ or to increase the water content of the mixtures – resulting in higher respectively lower viscosity.
  • Water dilution will cause less wetting action and reduced adhesion.
  • A surfactant (wetting agent) is part of the binder formulation – providing uniform coating, and – compensating (to some extent) for surfaces not cleaned prior to application.
  • Thickener is used for adjusting the viscosity and to keep the flux powder longer in suspension – This provides better performance in spray application. Nevertheless, formulations can be prepared and used without the addition of thickener.
  • Cleaning before binder-based flux application is recommended – but not mandatory.
  • A clean surface can be coated more easily and the flux adhesion will be better.
  • Residual oils and lubricants are reducing binder activity and require higher flux load.
  • Higher surfactant levels can compensate for some contamination – but result in more foaming.

5. Binder Flux Mixing Ratios

  • The standard composition is 35% NOCOLOK Flux, 15% NOCOLOK Binder, 5% NOCOLOK Thickener and 45% water. If a product with lower flux ratio is wanted (i.e., with only 10% flux), the composition must be modified. Right now, we are proposing 10% flux, 8% binder, 2% thickener and 80% water. There is only limited experience with this composition, and we are a little concerned. The reasons for our concerns are as follows:
    • With 35% flux, the ratio of flux to binder/ thickener on the surface of the headers is sufficient to combat the effects of the high organic content. Also, 15% binder has reasonable adhesion characteristics.
    • At 10% flux, the ratio of flux to binder/ thickener must be modified; otherwise there may not be sufficient flux to combat the high organic content. This is why we propose to reduce the binder and thickener to 8% and 2%, respectively. In other words, too much binder/ thickener and not enough flux may lead to black deposits on the headers after brazing and/ or difficulties in brazing.

6. Warehousing Considerations and Shelf Life

  • Under standard storage conditions, the shelf life is up to 12 months and probably longer. Standard storage conditions means that the product was stored at less than 30°C, as suggested in the MSDS.
  • The binder product can be stored at a temperature higher than 30°C, but the shelf life will shorten due to premature aging. Therefore, we recommend that the binder products be consumed within six months, if the storage temperature is a constant 40°C. This is not based on experimental data, but on general knowledge of water based polymer systems and adhesives. Any product stored at a temperature higher than 40°C should be consumed more quickly.
  • Under no circumstances should the binder products, in their original packaging, be exposed to a temperature of 60°C or above. We suspect that polymerization will occur, agglomerates will form and the performance will drop.

7. Thermo-Gravimetric Analysis (TGA) for Binder Flux

Please refer to the flyer “NOCOLOK Flux Application with Binders”.

8. Recommendations for Reducing Costs

  • Is not possible to only mix the binder, thickener and flux and just add the water on site. Without the water, the flux/ thickener/ binder mixture forms a rubbery-like substance that is very difficult to work with.
  • The least expensive option is to purchase the binder and thickener separately and do mixing of all ingredients on site. The most convenient option is to have a ready-mix, ready-to-use product supplied.
  • Please see above for additional recommendations for mixing.

Solvay Special Chemicals bundles all the information on aluminium brazing in a smartphone App. The NOCOLOK Flux-App puts all the information you need for your day-to-day business right where you need it – at your fingertips.

Now the NOCOLOK App is available for BlackBerry smartphones in the BlackBerry World. This is another logical move in Solvay Fluor’s strategy of providing a full service on all aspects of aluminium brazing for all users. After iOS and Android now the app is ready for BlackBerry in version 2.111. Your BlackBerry device needs min. the Operating System 7.1.0 or higher.

Nocolok-App-BlackBerry

The App boasts a detailed product overview of all NOCOLOK fluxes and ancillary products, as well as their physical properties and GHS classifications. From brazing, welding, soldering, powder coating to perfect corrosion protection: the App lists the packaging units, together with their weights, dimensions and a picture to simplify the selection of the required product.

But the real highlights of the application are the calculators – which really help your day-to-day routines: the “Flux Slurry Calculator” calculates the amount of NOCOLOK Flux needed dependent on the number of litres required and the concentration of the slurry. Two additional calculators for increasing or decreasing the slurry concentration are available too. The “Flux Load Calculator” calculates the surface of a heat exchanger and the amount of flux required for the welding process. Additionally detailed answers on fundamental aspects and special features of aluminium brazing with NOCOLOK are provided at a touch by the “NOCOLOK Encyclopaedia”.

The App is dedicated for users handling aluminium brazing, flux, solder, brazing alloy and CAB.

nocolok_app_blackberry

Please scan the QR-Code with QR Code Scanner.

Summary

The article was written on the basis of frequently asked questions from companies which either wanted to start a new all-aluminium brazing production of heat exchangers or wanted to convert from copper and aluminium mechanical assembly design to all-aluminium brazed parts. The questions were grouped into three main categories: Equipment (emphasis on assembling process), Process (emphasis on different fluxes and fluxing methods) and Corrosion.

Specific production challenges are also presented, which are important not only to newcomers of all-aluminium brazed heat exchangers, but to established companies as well. These include typical brazing problems such as managing leaks and the basics of brazing copper to aluminium. These topics are discussed by their relevance to the brazing parameters and their role in successful brazing.

Content:

  1. Introduction (in this issue)
  2. Equipment (in this issue)
  3. Brazing process (in August issue)
  4. Brazing copper to aluminium (in September issue)
  5. Corrosion resistance (in September issue)
  6. Summary (in September issue)

1. Introduction

Brazing Furnace

Increasing environmental concern has identified the air conditioning and refrigeration industry as one of the contributors to the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion.

Accordingly to [1] 15% of all electricity consumption in the developed world is used by the air conditioning and refrigerator industry. Increasing the efficiency of these heat transfer systems has the positive impact of decreasing electricity consumption and therefore the overall emission of CO2. The advantages of all aluminium brazed condensers in an air conditioning system are well described in [2]. For example one such case study [3] allowed for saving about 2700 USD during 6 months. The above advantages are currently well recognized by both the air conditioning manufacturers and their end users. It is our observation that the majority of the companies in the HVAC industry which have started or are about to start production of aluminium brazed heat exchangers have only limited experience with aluminium brazing; therefore providing them with maximum possible technical assistance from the supplier side is of high importance.

This article was written on the basis of our contacts with such companies having an aim to offer some assistance to all newcomers and companies facing some troubles with their new type of production.

2. Equipment

In most cases, the first question from a company that wants to start a new aluminium brazing activity is: “What kind of furnace should I buy?”

It is a complex issue which mainly depends on size of the products, its diversity and overall planned production volume. The general principles for the choice of the brazing furnace are shown in Fig. 1. It should be pointed out that the furnace manufacturers will make a brazing furnace customized to particular requirements of a given client.

Fig. 1: Basic principles for brazing furnace choice

Fig. 1: Basic principles for brazing furnace choice

Assembling units

In many cases the companies which are starting production of all aluminium brazed heat exchangers have been producing copper brazed heat exchangers. Therefore the natural question is: ”Can I use the same equipment which is used for copper units?”

The straight forward answer is: No! Aluminium requires high precision for assembling (recommended gap size is 0.1 to 0.15mm), which is hardly ever achieved for brazing copper parts. Also one should remember that any copper contamination on aluminium can cause catastrophic brazing failures (holes).

The process of component assembly can be done on a simple manual stacker or on machines with varying degrees of automation through to fully automated units. The level of automation should be mainly determined by the planned production volume, but also other factors such as local labour costs should also be considered.

Basic requirements for a manual assembling unit:

  1. Cores must be assembled on a perfectly flat heavy steel plate
  2. After laying out the tubes and fins, the tubes must be pushed precisely into position determined by the slots in the headers.
  3. To secure the above requirement:
    1. movement of the pusher must be allowed only in one direction (no side or up movement),
    2. travel distance must be accurately controlled – e.g. by mechanical block on the pusher,
    3. it is useful to have a special distances between tubes to secure the right spacing for each header slot,
    4. the vertical alignment of the tubes must be secured either by steel plate or by hammering the tubes with a special pad.
  4. Threading the headers on the tubes should be done in one single action which does not allow for any side or vertical deflection of the headers.
  5. After threading the headers the fixtures should be assembled and the tube pusher released.

The process of the part assembly is invariably connected with fixtures; these are the steel elements which hold the parts together during brazing and then removed after brazing. The most frequently asked question is: ”What should be the design of the brazing frames/fixtures?”

Basically there are rigid and elastic designs which allow for some expansion when the core is heated. For larger cores elastic design is preferred. This type of fixture is reusable, also known as a permanent fixture and can go through the brazing cycle several hundred times. Apart from that we could use single usage fixtures, known as disposable fixtures and these include steel wire and steel bands. The multi-use fixtures must be made of stainless steel and in most cases the single use fixtures are usually made of ordinary low carbon steel.

Fig. 2: Example of rigid and elastic fixtures

Fig. 2: Example of rigid and elastic fixtures

When designing the length of the fixture (distance marked in red as Ls in fig. 2, one must remember thatthere is a difference in thermal expansion coefficient between aluminium and steel. To compensate for this, the following assumption is made: The length of the steel fixture at brazing temperature must be equal to the nominal width of the aluminium exchanger at brazing temperature. On this basis, an equation can be used describing the linear change of dimensions with temperature.

Ls(1 + αstΔt) = Lo(1 + αalΔt)

Where:
Ls – length of steel fixture,
αst – thermal expansion coefficient for the fixture material,
αal – thermal expansion coefficient for aluminium,
Δt – Increase of the part temperature during brazing,
Lo – Nominal width of the part.

As an example, for a part having width of 900 mm and nominal tube spacing of 8 mm, solving this equation and taking into account the fact that after assembly there must be some pressure exerted by the fixture on the part, the length of the fixture should be 907.5 mm and the fin height 8.08 mm. The longer steel fixture is compensated by the increased fin height. It also means that after assembly the part will have a slightly barrel-like shape (bowed out at the sides).

The question: ”What final checks are required for brazed parts?”is also connected to equipment purchases. All brazed parts must be checked for leak tightness. The most simple method is the so called “under water test”. In this case the part is pressurized with air and lowered into a water bath to look for bubbles. However some end users require more accurate and reliable methods. In the automotive industry it is common to check condensers for leaks with high pressure and extremely sensitive helium leak detection devices.

Each product should be accepted by the end user. In every case the scope of acceptance tests should be agreed to between the manufacturer and the end users. Typical tests include burst pressure, thermal cycling and of course standard ones for heat transfer efficiency and pressure drop. As a general rule it can be said that all aluminium parts should meet all the requirements applied to copper/brass parts.


References:

1. Hans W. Swidersky, “Brazed Aluminium Heat Ex-changers for the Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Industry”, APT Aluminium News, 1-2009

2. Bjørn Vestergaard, “Brazed Aluminium Heat Ex-changers – Ask for the inexpensive features”, Seminar “Aluminium Process-Technology for HVACR Industry” Vienna, March 21st-23rd, 2007

3. Case Study – Harris County Sheriff’s Building, “Carrier Turn to the Experts” 2006 Carrier Corporation 05/06 04-811-10206

Will be continued…

The NOCOLOK dictionary was the reference book for the brazing of aluminium at its release over a decade ago. Now it has been completely revised and published under the name NOCOLOK Encyclopedia, with many additional chapters including a chapter on special fluxes. Within the new, fresh and tidier design lies concentrated knowledge for technicians and users in the aluminium industry. Many illustrations help make complex processes more understandable.

The PDF file is fully linked and keywords are quickly found using the built-in Acrobat Reader search function. The encyclopedia is free of charge and available for download.

NOCOLOK-Encyclopedia-Cover