The Generation of Emissions in Plating Process and Controls Method

Jul 15, 2021

The Generation of Emissions in Plating Process and Controls Method

Plating operations generate mists due to the evolution of hydrogen and oxygen gas. The gases are formed in the process tanks on the surface of the submerged part or on anodes or cathodes. As these gas bubbles rise to the surface, they escape into the air and may carry considerable liquid with them in the form of a fine mist. The rate of gassing is a function of the chemical or electrochemical activity in the tank and increases with the amount of work in the tank, the strength and temperature of the solution, and the current densities in the plating tanks. Air sparging also can result in emissions from the bursting of air bubbles at the surface of the plating tank liquid.

Emissions are also generated from surface preparation steps, such as alkaline cleaning, acid dipping, and vapor degreasing. These emissions are in the form of alkaline and acid mists and solvent vapors. The extent of acid misting from the plating processes depends mainly on the efficiency of the plating bath and the degree of air sparging or mechanical agitation. For many metals, plating baths have high cathode efficiencies so that the generation of mist is minimal. However, the cathode efficiency of chromium plating baths is very low (10 to 20 percent), and a substantial quantity of chromic acid mist is generated.

The principal techniques used to control emissions of chromic acid mist from decorative and hard chromium plating and chromic acid anodizing operations include add-on control devices and chemical fume suppressants. The control devices most frequently used are mist eliminators and wet scrubbers that are operated at relatively low pressure drops. Because of the corrosive properties of chromic acid, control devices typically are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or fiberglass.

Chemical fume suppressants are added to decorative chromium plating and chromic acid anodizing baths to reduce chromic acid mist. Although chemical agents alone are effective control techniques, many plants use them in conjunction with an add-on control device.

Chevron-blade and mesh-pad mist eliminators are the types of mist eliminators most frequently used to control chromic acid mist. The most important mechanism by which mist eliminators remove chromic acid droplets from gas streams is the inertial impaction of droplets onto a stationary set of blades or a mesh pad. Mist eliminators typically are operated as dry units that are periodically washed down with water to clean the impaction media.