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calendar   Monday - September 10, 2012

Getting Positive

Word of the Day: Anodic

It means “pertaining to an anode or the phenomena in its vicinity”.

Outside of remembering that the anode is the Plus one, and a cathode is the Minus one in an old television set or an X-ray machine, or that it also means the plate if you’re into old-school tube radios, we don’t have much to do with anodes. But perhaps we ought to.

Because anodic also means “deliberately sacrificial”; the skeg underneath your motorboat is made out of zinc, and the electrolytic action of driving your boat over the water eats away the skeg before it eats away the metal propeller. It was made to be self-sacrificing. In a very similar way, your hot water heater has an anode in it too; it’s a cheap part and a new one every 4-5 years will extend the life of your heater quite a bit. And in their own way, bodyguards are anodic, as are soldiers, airbags in your car, and so forth. Anything that has the job of sacrificing itself to protect something else.

Plus it’s a good Scrabble word. Not all that high scoring but unusual enough to perhaps generate a challenge.

So where does this one come from Drew?  Why, from bridges of course. And from a bit of state pride.

I’ve been noticing these silver bridges from time to time. Or at least the silver joists, diaphragms, and floor beams underneath. And I figured they were galvanized steel. And I was probably wrong.

Galvanizing steel is a multi-step rust proofing process that deposits a layer of zinc. Originally this was a straight electrical process, but the term has for a long time also embraced the more effective hot dip process, in which a part made of steel or iron is dipped in molten zinc.  The zinc coating is anodic and will deplete itself before the ferrous metal will rust. Even if the coating is scratched through! Pretty awesome stuff ( recall the Simpsons episode with the “a world without zinc” scholastic film ).  But you can almost always spot actual dipped galvanized steel by its unusual and slightly mottled appearance, known as spangles ... and I wasn’t seeing this on the steel I was looking at. Everything was a uniform, even, gray.

Turns out what I’ve been seeing is “galvanic paint”, a sprayable coating made with zinc silicate, Zn2SiO4. The paint, often made by Dulux as a primer, is actually more sacrificial than standard galvanizing, and can be reapplied on site as necessary. And it does not have spangles. The stuff looks uniformly gray, and not at all thick like paint or even powder coating. If anything, it makes steel look like aluminum.

image

Neat. Or batshit boring, depending on your worldview. And the stuff comes from New Jersey. Mineralogists know this one as Willemite, and it comes from the mines in Franklin, Sterling Hill, and Paterson NJ. Ok, it also comes from Arizona, Namibia, and Belgium. And Greenland. But the stuff was discovered in NJ first. And what makes it a bit more interesting is that not only is it highly fluorescent, it’s also sometimes phosphorescent. Which could make for some trippy after dark bridge experiences if you happened to have a big enough black light with you, because you could make one glow in the dark a bit. Neater!

Ok, daily knowledge infusion over. Now back to our regularly scheduled cover of politics, injustice, Travelers, racism, whacked out leftists, and the pisslamic menace. And an occasional pretty girl to look at.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 09/10/2012 at 01:46 PM   
Filed Under: • Science-Technology •  
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