The theoretical amount of flux required to dissolve a 100 Å oxide film is about 0.02 g/m2
(1 Å = 10-10 m = 0,1 nm). For a 400 Å film, still only 0.08 g/m2 flux is required. These do not take into account losses to moisture, oxygen or poisoning of the flux by Mg alloy additions.

In practice however, the recommended loading for fluxing is 5 g/m2, uniformly distributed on all active brazing surfaces. This is more than 250 times the theoretical amount required for oxide dissolution. To visualize what 5 g/m2 flux loading might look like, think of a very dusty car. As the heat exchange manufacturer gains experience with his products, he may find that a little more is required for consistent brazing or that he can get away with a little less flux.

Too little flux will result in poor filler metal flow, poor joint formation, higher reject rates, and inconsistent brazing. In other words, the process becomes very sensitive.

Too much flux will not affect the brazing results. However there will be pooling of flux which can drip on the muffle floor, the surface of the brazed product will be gray and there will be visible signs of flux residue. Furthermore, flux will accumulate on fixtures more rapidly which then requires more frequent maintenance. More importantly yet, using too much flux will increase the process costs.

In some cases, heat exchanger manufacturers use higher than recommended flux loadings to mask furnace atmosphere deficiencies. This should be viewed as a short-term solution and the furnace problems should be addressed.

See also: How to evaluate flux load?

A new coating technology for the functionalization of semi-finished aluminium products for heat exchanger (HEX) applications has been developed by Erbslöh Aluminium GmbH with assistance from Solvay Fluor. In contrast to binder-based flux coatings, it is now possible to apply various kinds of NOCOLOK® fluxes free of any adhesives for the Controlled Atmosphere Brazing (CAB) process to aluminium surfaces, gaining economic and technological advantages. Today’s application examples include coatings on extruded condenser and evaporator tubes, and internal brazing of B-type tubes by integration in tube mills. Other applications, e.g. for selective local coatings, are conceivable.
Several aluminium substrates were coated with different NOCOLOK® fluxes/flux materials and examined in pre and post-brazed condition. As the results show, the new technology has a considerable potential in substituting or even replacing common pre-fluxing processes for CAB in HEX manufacturing.
Controlled Gas Plasma Deposition (CGPD) represents an innovative method for pre-fluxing of semi-finished products. It allows the application of pure flux by means of a plasma source with comparable adhesion properties as achieved with binder-based coatings. Due to the absence of any binder or other redundant chemicals, CGPD is not limited to any drying or hardening time, opening the way for high speed flux application. This comes hand in hand with the higher environmental friendliness of a solvent and binder-free process.

Illustration of the CGPD process

Benefits of brazed aluminium HEXs in Micro Multiport (MMP) design are:
■ Cost reduction
■ Improved performance with downsizing potential
■ Weight reduction
■ Lower refrigerant charge
■ Better corrosion performance
■ Recycling advantages
Improvements in CAB:
■ Use of pre-coated components
■ Process, quality, cost
■ Binder-free CGPD coating for easy use and high speed applications