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  Testing Nickel Emissions From Metal Finishing Operations (Phase 2), Final Report (823 pp, 48 MB)

Nickel emissions from electroplating operations are of concern to EPA. So to better manage the environmental challenges that result from wastes generated by nickel plating, EPA obtained nickel emission data from nickel plating operations using EPA Methods 29 and 306A.

For this project, five nickel plating processes were tested:

  • Electroless nickel
  • Rack watts nickel
  • Barrel watts nickel
  • Nickel sulfamate
  • Wood’s nickel strike plating

By modifying some of the operating parameters (such as surface tension and agitation methods), EPA can determine the impact of these operational changes on nickel emissions.

The stack testing was conducted over two years, from June 2004 through January 2006. Following are conclusions based on the stack testing results:

  • Nickel emissions from the rack watts nickel and rack nickel sulfamate tanks processes (with a wetting agent, no mesh pad, and air agitation) are not significant (less than 0.05 milligrams per dry standard cubic meter [mg/dscm]).
  • Nickel emissions from uncontrolled and vented electroless nickel, barrel nickel, and wood’s nickel strike plating processes are significant (greater then 0.1 mg/dscm) but can be reduced 49 to 92 percent by employing eductors, wetting agents, or simple mesh pads.
  • Wetting agents, simple mesh pads, and eductors can be used to reduce nickel emissions from these processes with varying degrees of success. Simple mesh pads were found to be the most effective because they outperformed wetting agents and eductors, are less expensive, and are external to the plating process. (There is no impact on the plating chemistry.)

The results of the study indicate that EPA Methods 29 and 306A provide similar results when measuring nickel emissions from the electroless nickel, watts nickel, and wood’s nickel strike processes. However, further testing is needed on a controlled process or conducted simultaneously to determine whether Method 306A is an acceptable alternative to Method 29 for measuring nickel emissions from nickel plating processes in general.


David Ferguson

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