Tech Briefs

Method for Reduction of Silver Biocide Plating on Metal Surfaces

Silver ions in aqueous solutions (0.05 to 1 ppm) are used for microbial control in water systems. The silver ions remain in solution when stored in plastic containers, but the concentration rapidly decreases to non-biocidal levels when stored in metal containers. The silver deposits onto the surface and is reduced to non-biocidal silver metal when it contacts less noble metal surfaces, including stainless steel, titanium, and nickel-based alloys.

Five methods of treatment of contact metal surfaces to deter silver deposition and reduction are proposed:

1. High-temperature oxidation of the metal surface;
2. High-concentration silver solution pre-treatment;
3. Silver plating;
4. Teflon coat by vapor deposition (titanium only); and
5. A combination of methods (1) and (2), which proved to be the best method for the nickel-based alloy application.

The mechanism associated with surface treatments (1), (2), and (5) is thought to be the development of a less active oxide layer that deters ionic silver deposition. Mechanism (3) is an attempt to develop an equilibrium ionic silver concentration via dissolution of metallic silver. Mechanism (4) provides a non-reactive barrier to deter ionic silver plating.

Development testing has shown that ionic silver in aqueous solution was maintained at essentially the same level of addition (0.4 ppm) for up to 15 months with method (5) (a combination of methods (1) and (2)), before the test was discontinued for nickel-based alloys. Method (1) resulted in the maintenance of a biocidal level (approximately 0.05 ppm) for up to 10 months before that test was discontinued for nickel-based alloys. Methods (1) and (2) used separately were able to maintain ionic silver in aqueous solution at essentially the same level of addition (0.4 ppm) for up to 10 months before the test was discontinued for stainless steel alloys. Method (3) was only utilized for titanium alloys, and was successful at maintaining ionic silver in aqueous solution at essentially the same level of addition (0.4 ppm) for up to 10 months before the test was discontinued for simple flat geometries, but not for geometries that are difficult to Teflon coat.

This work was done by John Steele, Timothy Nalette, and Durwood Beringer of Hamilton Sundstrand for Lockheed Martin under contract with Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

Title to this invention has been waived under the provisions of the National Aeronautics and Space Act {42 U.S.C. 2457(f)} to Hamilton Sundstrand. Inquiries concerning licenses for its commercial development should be addressed to:

   Hamilton Sundstrand
   One Hamilton Road
   Windsor Locks, CT 06096-1010
   Phone No.: (860) 654-6000

MSC-24875-1