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Old 04-04-2006, 09:56 AM   #1
Elitist
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Default Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

Somewhere on this Forum, about a year ago, I read an opinion that the 'stolen electrolyte formula' was probably an urban myth. I intended to reply but got distracted and now cannot find the item. In the meantime, this board deleted my registration!
Anyway, I strongly disagree - this one has all the hallmarks of dirty deeds. Once upon a time, caps were well-behaved. Suddenly, a selection of formerly reliable makers started turning out bad caps (notably Luxon) and a larger selection of rogue cloners appeared with dud units. A discontinuous change occurred. The hydrogen gas scavenger had been omitted from the electrolyte mix. Clearly, the incomplete formula had been circulated amongst manufacturers incapable of spotting the oversight. This all fits with the industrial espionage theory. Any lab with a competent chemist would have spotted the omission. Those who did not were trying to cut corners at someone else's expense. This should not be end users. Since bad caps can be life-threatening by explosion, Interpol should get involved.
When repairing PSU, it's a good idea to canabalise good caps from now-defunct AT units made before about the turn of the millenium. Despite the theory, good caps seem to survive whether charged or not. Guess the aluminium oxide film in contact with a strong oxidiser retains its integrity.

Last edited by Elitist; 04-04-2006 at 09:59 AM..
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Old 04-04-2006, 10:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthr...ghlight=stolen
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Old 04-05-2006, 12:53 AM   #3
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

Thanks, Per. It wasn't the quite the long item I had in mind, but it is certainly germane.
I'm not up-to-date on contemporary acclerated testing of capacitors. It should'nt be difficult to blow them up in the lab., but simulating a long, slow process of hydrogen build-up could be difficult. The problem of fitting vent valves is that electrolyte can leak or dry out.

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Old 04-05-2006, 03:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

well, here's the articles for discussion. if anyone is interested to debate

Low-ESR Aluminum Electrolytic Failures Linked to Taiwanese Raw Material Problems
PASSIVECOMPONENTINDUSTRY SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2002
http://www.ezinstructions.com/badcapacitors.pdf

Taiwanese Cap Makers Deny Responsibility
PASSIVE COMPONENT INDUSTRY NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2002
http://www.ec-central.org/magazine/n...wanese_cap.pdf

Identification of Missing or Insufficient Electrolyte Constituents in Failed Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors
Craig Hillman and Norman Helmold
http://www.cct.no/filesystem/2005/11...elmold_607.pdf
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Old 04-05-2006, 06:42 AM   #5
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

Hey! those are very helpful links, thanks. But I thought I'd read something like that here on this Forum?
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Old 04-05-2006, 09:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

the hillman-helmold was the best one.
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Old 04-05-2006, 01:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

also Luxon Electronics news from their site

Quote:
October 22, 2002
LUXON ELECTRONICS CORPORATION DO NOT HAS ANY BUSINESS WITH "LENYAN" AND DO NOT EVER USE THE ELECTROLYTE CONTAINING P-50 AND P-51.


We are the professional manufacurer who devotes to the Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor in Taiwan (also including our two plants in China)- LUXON ELECTRONICS CORPORATION. LUXON is always offering the good quality, competitive price and well-provided service for our products since 21 years ago.

recently, a rumor says that some of the customers (I company in USA, F company/ M compnay/ S company in Japan) are worrying about the quality of Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor from Taiwan Manufacturers. It has resulted in a storm during Taiwanese suppliers. We are badly worrying this ill news is getting to harm LUXON'S reputation.

According to the information, it was caused by some of manufacturers- L company and Y company, have failures in their products and it was raised by that L company and Y compnay used the electrolyte P-50, P-51 which are from a company named "LENYAN". For this reason, many customers misunderstand all of Taiwan Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor Manufacturers are using the electrolyte including P-50 and P-51.

LUXON definitely understands that the electrolyte is one of the most important materials for Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor. In order to ensure our reliability and innovative technology, LUXON always develops the electrolyte by ourselves.

We hereby declare that:
LUXON ELECTRONICS CORPORATION DO NOT HAS ANY BUSINESS WITH "LENYAN" AND DO NOT EVER USE THE ELECTROLYTE CONTAINING P-50 AND P-51.

We are sorry to hear that this ill rumor released by unknown defamer has caused unnecessary anxiety to our customers. We have to make the truth clear. We guarantee that our products do not use the electrolyte including P-50 and P-51. Sincerely wish having your always support and encouragement to LUXON as usual.
actually looking for more data on this subject revealed something new to me, that Yageo acquired Teapo in 1996-7 and then in Aug-Sep/2005 Teapo merged with Luminous Town Electric (Ltec) and Luxon Electronics. not relevant to the issue but interesting.
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Old 04-05-2006, 01:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

actually Dennis Zogbi who ran the original two articles in his Passive Component Industry mag wrote an article about the nichicon HN HM problems, which i had missed.

Quote:
Market Eye, TTI Inc.
Dennis Zogbi September 19, 2005

Introduction: In this edition of MarketEye, Dennis Zogbi discusses the impact of reoccurring issues with aluminum electrolytic capacitors.

In the September 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine (p. 46) an article titled "Is the iMac G5 Running Hot?" shows radial leaded aluminum electrolytic capacitors failing due to excess heat on the motherboard. The article asks the basic question: Is the design wrong, or are the components of poor quality?

The reverberations of this article have left the global aluminum electrolytic capacitor vendors scrambling to appease their large customers, with factory audits reported throughout the Japanese and Chinese aluminum electrolytic capacitor supply chain. The Popular Mechanics magazine article also brought attention to an Intel advisory warning of the same potential failures of aluminum electrolytic capacitors on personal computers. This strongly suggested that the problem was not necessarily based upon the design of the motherboard, but that faulty capacitors were to blame.

Parts and Failure Modes:

The aluminum electrolytic capacitors used on the iMac G5 20" 1.8 GHz model motherboard that are reported to be failing are primarily radial leaded 1,000 µF or 1,800 µF at 6.3VDC and 16VDC. The lower voltage parts are failing at a faster rate than the higher voltage parts. All parts are coming from one major Japanese vendor, but industry insiders tell me that the parts were manufactured by a Taiwanese subcontractor to the Japanese vendor. The failure mode of the capacitor on the board is bulging of the can because of excess outgassing, which can cause the electrolyte to leak on the board and for the capacitors to fail.

According to two primary sources, both of which are experienced electrolytic scientists working directly in the capacitor industry, the problem is with a faulty water based electrolyte that is causing the outgassing to occur. This problem occurred in the Chinese electrolyte industry in 2002, wreaking havoc on Taiwanese producers of aluminum capacitors. Once again, the problem affected only the computer motherboard industry leading many to speculate that either the events which caused the 2002 problems in Taiwan has repeated itself, or the incident is isolated to one vendor who used a “bad” batch of water based electrolytes.

Water Based Electrolytes the Culprit?

As noted, my two electrolytic scientist colleagues in the industry both agreed that the problem noted in the Popular Mechanics magazine and on the Intel Web site were both related to a faulty electrolyte. They also felt that using an electrolyte that has been on the shelf since 2002 in Taiwan was unlikely, and that there may be a problem with using water based electrolytes to decouple new high-speed microprocessors (fascinating!). Apparently, computer motherboards use an aqueous water based electrolyte to get low equivalent series resistance and/or low impedance in their board designs. There are three types of water-based electrolytes: Dipropyl Ketone, Ethylene Glycol and standard Water-Based. The first two have less than 25% water content, while traditional water-based electrolytes have 40% to 70% water content and these capacitors are exhibiting the failures. Thus high water content in the electrolyte coincides with aluminum electrolytic capacitor failures in the computer motherboard industry.

Why the High Water Content Electrolyte Fails

According to primary electrolytic scientists in the capacitor industry a "bad" water based electrolyte "breaks down the dielectric" (whereby the capacitance value increases if the capacitor sits on the shelf or operates under low VDC conditions causing the leakage current to increase, which is bad). Therefore, a "chemical reaction between the electrolyte and etched anode foil results in a hydrogen gas formation that either bulges the can or pushes the end seal out" (or both). Furthermore, "the continuous operation with constant high VDC applied could delay the component failure as the dielectric surface is reformed. So, it is a race between the chemical breakdown of aluminum oxide dielectric layer verses VDC reforming of the aluminum oxide dielectric layer."

The temperature should also impact the failure rate. Higher temperature will accelerate the chemical reaction and breakdown of the aluminum oxide dielectric layer. "All parts with "bad" H2O electrolyte are at risk. Low voltage rated capacitors parts (6.3VDC is at higher risk than 16VDC) and low operating voltage (VDC) circuits are at highest risk." ROHs compliance may also contribute to the problem because tin terminations require higher soldering temperatures than lead (Pb) terminations.

How The Computer Companies Are Reacting?

Since this is the second noted failure of water based electrolytic aluminum capacitors since 2002 the computer manufacturers are taking this quite seriously on two fronts. According to the largest computer company in the world, their strategy is to audit all major aluminum electrolytic capacitor vendors whether or not they have offered a capacitor containing a faulty electrolyte or not; and then internally, they will evaluate each vendors parts and determine multiple factors, including the thickness of the can walls, type of electrolyte, water content per electrolyte, quantity of anode foil by foil thickness, and quantity of cathode foil by foil thickness to determine any subtle differences between the products of aluminum capacitor vendors. My sources in the computer industry suggest that their approved vendor lists for aluminum capacitors may become smaller as a result.

Are Their Alternatives To Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors?

When pressed upon the issue of employing an alternative dielectric such as Niobium-Oxide or Tantalum capacitors, the computer companies noted that such devices had been considered, but tantalum did not have high enough capacitance value, and niobium oxide was not available in a complete enough product portfolio to be a good alternative right now. Also, the aluminum capacitors were not all failing, just the high water-based parts, which have very low pricing. So even moving to a polymer aluminum capacitor would not be a cost-effective solution. The only solution is to either develop a cost effective water-based electrolytic capacitor (the favored solution) that does not fail, or to move toward lower water content electrolytes, which is not necessarily the “green” or the cost-effective solution. But as my computer industry contacts noted, if we there is a computer recall, or mass failures of computer motherboards because of faulty aluminum capacitors, the computer industry stands to lose, and that is a risk they are not willing to take.
I do like how Nichicon is mentioned as one major Japanese vendor whilst in the first articles the Taiwan companies were clearly named.

two parts are interesting, namely but industry insiders tell me that the parts were manufactured by a Taiwanese subcontractor to the Japanese vendor.. It was earlier raised on this forum the similarities of the specs of Samxon/Man Yue caps to Nichicon and their relationship to Nichicon. Of course this can only be speculation whether they were involved in the HN HM production problems.

secondly the problem is with a faulty water based electrolyte that is causing the outgassing to occur. which is in conflict with information circulating previously that Nichicon overfilled the capacitors with electrolyte and sounds more plausible.

Last edited by willawake; 04-05-2006 at 02:15 PM..
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Old 04-06-2006, 01:32 AM   #9
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

The Luxon item is hogwash - their caps were some of the first to exhibit this issue.
As for formulation, I don't know of any wholly organic electrolyte vehicle used in caps. In fact, based on some reserach we did a couple of decades ago, such devices wouldn't work. Water is an essential component in forming and growing the films, as well as maintenance of their integrity. H2 gas scavenging is the vital consideration; this is similar to handling overcharging in sealed batteries.
Overfilling? Doubt it.
This phenomenon has all the symptoms of incorrect electrolyte formulation. Failures show discontinuity, ipso facto, 'stolen' formula is still the most credible explanation that would lead some, but not all, manufacturers to suddenly start producing large quantities of defective products.
With so much espionage, intrigue, take-overs, buy-outs, bankruptcies and worse in today's business world, I wouldn't believe any official statements on the subject.
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:35 AM   #10
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

I've seen a a few bulging Luxons, but they're nowhere near as numerous as claimed. It's mostly confined to the LZ series, 10V, under thermal duress. It's possible that a lot of people are confusing Lelon and Luxon.

The Yageos that I've seen on mobos date back to the mid-90s, and it's possible that they were manufactured by Teapo under contract. I've never seen a failed Yageo.

Teapo merging with LTEC and Luxon is bad news - Teapo was always better quality than the other two. If they now supply Luxon-manufactured caps under the Teapo umbrella-brand, how do we distinguish them from the original, good Teapo?
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Old 04-06-2006, 03:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

Quote:
Teapo was always better quality than the other two. If they now supply Luxon-manufactured caps under the Teapo umbrella-brand, how do we distinguish them from the original, good Teapo?
i believe they will use all 3 brands
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Old 04-06-2006, 04:36 AM   #12
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

either the oter 2 brands will improve or teapo will go down in quality.
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Old 04-06-2006, 07:16 AM   #13
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

Not necessarily. It is my belief that the 'bad cap' problem is very well understood within the trade. That being so, there is no reason why it should continue when proper formulations are already available. Once stocks are cleared out, we should not get any more bad caps until the next generations of jokers trying to make a fast buck emerge.
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Old 04-07-2006, 11:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

I re Zogbi's article, if you want to avoid aqueous electrolyte caps, use LXV, LXY, and LXZ from UCC, PJ, PM, PS, or PW from Nichicon, or FC from Panasonic. AFAIK, Rubycon's low Z caps all use aqueous electrolytes. For aqueous-electrolyte parts with moderate water content, I believe UCC's KY and Nichicon's HE are low water content; KZE is somewhat higher water content, and I suspect this is true of Nichicon's HD. I believe that all of the ultra-low impedance caps - HM, HN, HV, KZG, KZV, etc. - are higher water content; this is probably true of many of Rubycon's series.

IMO, I think we're seeing several things. Aqueous electrolytes are relatively new, and I don't think they are as well understood as traditional electrolytes. I think the Three Cons and Panasonic are ahead of the other companies in understanding what they are producing, and their quality is much better. Rubycon seems to have gotten "it" right. I think the quality issues of the "other guys" are exacerbated by the environment in which the parts are being used: MB VRMs are stressing the parts (even assuming the VRM design uses the caps within their ratings, something I wonder about) and placing them in proximity to hot components; system cooling may not be adequate (and the focus is on key semiconductors) and items such as drives and cables may make any airflow problem worse; user environmets may be less than optimal (poor airflow, dust); OC'ing and fan-free wonders. As Zogbi pointed out, heat accellerates deterioration.
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Old 04-08-2006, 12:41 AM   #15
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Default Re: Myth or truth: stolen electrolyte formula

It's far more complicated. In the beginning, there was only aqueous borate electrolytes and venting was essential - accomplished by a simple non-return valve in the rubber seal in the base. Then, more complex electrolytes, some with organic sovents emerged. However, it was never appreciated, at that time, that these organic liquids were ringing wet. Moreover, their water content was a function of their history and the weather - of course! Controlling the moisture content of non-aqueous materials is critically dependent on controlling the entire environment in which they are synthesised, stored and used; human breath is not permitted in dry-rooms! To add one small further complication, pure aluminium with an oxide free surface doesn't exist under normal conditions (it would be pyrophoric), so any initial film will be already be partially hydrated! Fortunately, as we and others found, totally dry electrolytes don't work - the presence of water is required for film formation and growth (other than the native thin barrier film, of course). The control of water content in films and eletrolytes, therefore, becomes of utmost importance but is supremely difficult in a mass production environment. Notwithstanding, some companies have always been able to make good caps and continue to do so. These are the ones who maintain a full complement of research and QC chemists on their staff. There are no corners to be cut in this technology.
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