by Collyn Rivers – Updated 2020
Retarding Rust Electronically
Promotion and sale of units for retarding rust electronically (for RVs etc) was banned in the USA in the 1990s. One brand (CECI) has long been banned in Australia. Their sale is an offence under Section 218 of the Australian Consumer Law. The details are at the end of this article). In 2015 the NSW Fair Trade Commissioner warned against buying such products. In essence, retarding rust electronically is of questionable value.
Retarding rust electronically – how it is (claimed) to work
The form of claimed rust protection was (vendor explained) as this. It is to ‘impress a controlled, pulsed high voltage low-level current onto a vehicle’s chassis and body. Doing so partially nullifies the electron flow that causes rusting.’ (That is a vendor explanation, not mine).
The technology involved is basic. It has long been in the public domain. Googling reveals details of how to build a unit yourself.
Retarding rust electronically – the USA banned it
In the 1990s, claims of retarding rust electronically came to a head The USA Federal Trade Commission accepted there was evidence of rust retardation. It noted, however, that promotional claims were extreme. It banned further promotion.
The CECI unit. Pic: original source HPC.
In the early 2000s, CSIRO-refereed tests of a unit concluded it was an ‘effective method’ of rust protection. ‘Effective’, however, was neither qualified nor quantified. The maker claimed ‘it is not a miracle cure. It typically retards rusting by a factor of four to five’.
My own testing
I tested a similar unit for Endrust Australia. The test vehicle was my 1994 OKA. Four bare-steel test strips were bolted directly to its chassis. Four identical (control)strips were insulated from the chassis.
The test included river crossings like this! Tip of Cape York – far North Queensland. Pic: rvbooks.com.au
The OKA was parked 300 metres from the Indian Ocean, north of Broome. It was thus exposed to wind-blown salty air. It was also driven over 90,000 km. This included three months in Cape York. Plus twelve return trips to and from the east coast, via Alice Springs.
Both sets of strips quickly acquired a soft powdery coating. The unprotected strips heavily rusted after two/three months. They eventually became deeply pitted. The protected strips’ coating could be partially wiped off. This exposed relatively clean metal. Small scratches on bare metal were likewise.
After five years, the unprotected were deeply rusted. The protected ones rusted – but less so. The test unit retarded rusting. It did not prevent it. Endrust subsequently ceased distributing the product.
A curious effect
There was, however, a curious effect. While the unit operates the paint acquires a ‘bloom’. This bloom disappears shortly after the unit is turned off. It is still unclear how or why. It was repeatable – and captured on camera. Others using this unit report similarly.
The technology has some effect. The unit tested retarded rusting. It did not reduce it to the extent claimed. In RV Books opinion, it was not nearly as effective as conventional protection. It may, however, assist retarding rust on very old vehicles.
Retarding rust electronically – a now less need
Since 2000 there have been major advances in manufacturing. Furthermore, rusty vehicles are now rare. Unless driven often on beaches. Or exposed to strong, salt-laden winds.
It’s a bit late for this one! Pic: original source unknown.
This article can (legally) only comment on the unit tested. Furthermore, it does not imply that other rust protection units may be similar. That which can be mentioned, however, is a 2015 ruling. It relates to the High-Performance Corporation distributing CECI units to retailers. These were claimed to ‘drastically reduce the rate at which rust forms’. The ruling similarly relates to the MotorOne Group (motoronefleet.com).
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