Copper Ionizer to eliminate Zebra mussels - need design help

Thread Starter

lapoljo

Joined Aug 12, 2023
10
Zebra mussels clogging the water intake on my boat's outdrive are a real problem. It sits idle in fresh water for long periods.
I've read a lot about copper ions warding off the Zebras. I've also read about copper ionizers being used to sanitize swimming pools.

SO, I'm thinking of building a copper ionizer, powered by my 12 Volt boat battery.

Essentially 2 copper pipes, separated by a distance (X), connected to the (+) and (-) terminals of the battery. When the boat is docked, this would be hung over the stern, near the outdrive, so it is about 3' below the surface. and powered on.
The pipes would be contained in perforated PVC tubes to allow water circulation, but assure that they cannot short out. The power would also be fused, just in case.
The unit just needs to create enough copper ion concentration in a 3'- 4' perimeter to chase away the Zebras.

Beyond what I just wrote, I'm clueless and am hoping someone here can provide some guidance.
A) Is 12 volts DC enough to ionize copper?
B) Given that the water is about 6-8 pH, what is a good distance to separate the rods?
C) Is there a way to calculate the current draw?

I can conduct a bunch of experiments, but hopefully someone can save me some wasted time.

I'm open to any suggestions/feedback regarding the whole concept.

TIA,
John
 

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,182
It is a subject I find interesting. A small solar panel feeding some DC to the intake problem area to deter the mussels from settling there. Not very inclined to any ´copper ions´ theory.
For dozens of different intakes, systems, metals, insulation of parts, placement of electrodes; there should be something that works even in fresh water. The testing of how effective would take some time to confirm the growth or not-growth, or even kill attached organisms. How does the fishing industry boats deals with that in your area ?
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
10,044

Tonyr1084

Joined Sep 24, 2015
7,777
Was thinking hospitals use something similar to paint their surgical theaters and patient rooms.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Rust-Oleum...ction-Satin-Copper-1-Gallon-2-Pack/5001847821
$200 for one gallon of paint.
Over the years I've wondered if I could copper-fy my own paint. When I worked in a steel shop we used to have to strip away the stainless steel down to the basic carbon steel. To verify we had removed all the SS we used a copper acid solution - I don't remember the chemistry to it - consisting of some copper crystals mixed in a solution and then sprayed on the steel. I bet buying copper crystals is a lot cheaper than buying paint with copper in it. At least that's what I'm thinking might be possible.
 

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,182
Instead of an electrical strategy that interests me very much, if coatings are to be considered to tackle mussels, any oil-based paint with added cheap antibiotics works to prevent ´fouling´ Perhaps for veterinary use are even cheaper.
 

Thread Starter

lapoljo

Joined Aug 12, 2023
10
I may be wrong but I don't think copper ionizers work like you think. Why not make things easier on your self and use a copper anti fouling paint on the intake and surrounding area? Something like CopperCoat https://www.coppercoatusa.com/ Some of the copper anti fouling literaure even mention zebra mussels as one of the things they are good for. https://www.google.com/search?channel=fen&client=firefox-b-1-d&q=copper+anti+fouling+paint
Thanks. Certainly something to consider. My main hesitance is cost. I really only need to keep my outdrive intake clear, so I'd need maybe a 1/2 pint. I may reach out to boating friends to see if I can scrounge up a small amount.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
17,792
The very first question I have is how much current and what voltage are needed?? The required power controls how the devices will work.
 

ThePanMan

Joined Mar 13, 2020
757

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
2,182
If we can see an image of the intake and location, other ways to stop the barnacles can be suggested.
If it is on an outboard section, a magnet held wrapper or a flusher as below can block the area to barnacles growth.
???---> 1696784265159.png1696784431973.png
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,019
Zebra mussels clogging the water intake on my boat's outdrive are a real problem. It sits idle in fresh water for long periods.
I have to ask, just why don't you trim your foot out of the water when tied up? That keeps your intake out of the water? Which is what most people do to eliminate outdrive problems from continuous immersion when not under way. Many reasons to do so! Or, paint your outdrive with copper bottom paint?
1696786936124.pngOr use the "Dock Disk"
1696787235101.png
 

Thread Starter

lapoljo

Joined Aug 12, 2023
10
I have to ask, just why don't you trim your foot out of the water when tied up? That keeps your intake out of the water? Which is what most people do to eliminate outdrive problems from continuous immersion when not under way. Many reasons to do so! Or, paint your outdrive with copper bottom paint?
View attachment 304470Or use the "Dock Disk"
View attachment 304471
Thank you Sam.
When I bring my drive into full up position, the intake is still below water. (prevents sucking air and destroying the impeller) so that won't work.

I actually started down this rabbit hole when I discovered the "Dock Disk." Cool product, which seems like 1 solution. Downside is it costs about $75 and would need to be replaced 2X per season. I'm barely making ends meet on SS, so I started thinking, "How can I create my own copper ions?" Seemed like a couple of pieces of copper pipe and some PVC from my scrap bin might be the answer.

I wasn't aware of the Copper Bottom Paint, so I appreciate you and other posters for that suggestion. Another possible solution. I would only need a small amount to paint the outdrive, but I might be able to scrounge a 1/2 pint from a boating friend.

All of this research and "copper thinking" made me also look into self adhesive "copper tape." I can buy a roll of 2" wide on Amazon for about $10. I could slap a piece over the intake on each side, and cut out the area where water flows. Maybe that will do the trick.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
5,019
Back in the day... I knew a guy who got all hot about building a ferrocement sailboat hull and he had this crazy idea of "in water" electroplating its hull with copper to prevent barnacle and other such growths on it. Neither ever happened but it was an interesting idea... My old 23.5' AMF Slickcraft had an OMC Electrashift outdrive and it did almost fully emerge except the very front of the propshaft housing as well as now my 20' with the 4 stroke Yamaha 150 outboard. You always knew they were up if you forgot to put them down before starting from the noise they made. I'd give the copper bottom paint a try although on the outdrive it gets a lot more scruffing than the hull typically does so it might need replacing regularly. I can't keep the paint on my outboard skeg for all the sandbars down here. Also, outdrive water intakes typically have a screen to prevent trash being sucked up into their water cooling pump impeller and those screens were often bronze. Wouldn't keep the growth off of the foot but should keep anything from growing on the intake... Maybe even wrap some copper foil around the foots sacrificial zinc anode... or bolt a piece of copper plate on with the zinc.
 
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MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
17,792
You do need to pay attention to the possibility of setting up a "galvanic couple" any time different metals are in contact, especially with water around. I am guessing that this is a freshwater lake. Or not? I think zebra muscles are freshwater only creatures.
 

Thread Starter

lapoljo

Joined Aug 12, 2023
10
You do need to pay attention to the possibility of setting up a "galvanic couple" any time different metals are in contact, especially with water around. I am guessing that this is a freshwater lake. Or not? I think zebra muscles are freshwater only creatures.
Yes. Freshwater.
 

Thread Starter

lapoljo

Joined Aug 12, 2023
10
Back in the day... I knew a guy who got all hot about building a ferrocement sailboat hull and he had this crazy idea of "in water" electroplating its hull with copper to prevent barnacle and other such growths on it. Neither ever happened but it was an interesting idea... My old 23.5' AMF Slickcraft had an OMC Electrashift outdrive and it did almost fully emerge except the very front of the propshaft housing as well as now my 20' with the 4 stroke Yamaha 150 outboard. You always knew they were up if you forgot to put them down before starting from the noise they made. I'd give the copper bottom paint a try although on the outdrive it gets a lot more scruffing than the hull typically does so it might need replacing regularly. I can't keep the paint on my outboard skeg for all the sandbars down here. Also, outdrive water intakes typically have a screen to prevent trash being sucked up into their water cooling pump impeller and those screens were often bronze. Wouldn't keep the growth off of the foot but should keep anything from growing on the intake... Maybe even wrap some copper foil around the foots sacrificial zinc anode... or bolt a piece of copper plate on with the zinc.
Outdrive intake.jpgSimilar outdrive is pictured above. There is an intake on each side. The intake plate (blue circle) is what gets clogged with zebras. Little buggers actually migrate into the holes and reduce/block flow.
I think if I painted that whole bottom part of the outdrive with copper paint it might do the job.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
 

Janis59

Joined Aug 21, 2017
1,820
Simply buy the 40 kg of copper sulfide sulphate (CuSO4) and electrolize it to get about 12-15 kg of copper micropowder. Then solute it in some kind or resin You like and copper paint is ready for cheap. However wonder why You call it Zebras if the the correct name is fouling and thus the antifouling paint.
 
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Thread Starter

lapoljo

Joined Aug 12, 2023
10
Simply buy the 40 kg of copper sulfide and electrolize it to get about 12-15 kg of copper micropowder. Then solute it in some kind or resin You like and copper paint is ready for cheap. However wonder why You call it Zebras if the the correct name is fouling and thus the antifouling paint.
Thank you, but I'm fairly certain that getting a 1/2 pint of antifouling paint from a friend would be a much simpler solution for me.
Here in the USA, and in my particular case, fresh water Zebra Mussels are the specific annoyance I'm dealing with. "Fouling" can include barnacles, algae, and other marine growth.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
17,792
Simply buy the 40 kg of copper sulfide and electrolize it to get about 12-15 kg of copper micropowder. Then solute it in some kind or resin You like and copper paint is ready for cheap. However wonder why You call it Zebras if the the correct name is fouling and thus the antifouling paint.
I believe that the actual chemical suggested would be copper SULPHATE (CuSO4). That is the blue crystaline chemical that is also used to keep roots out of underground drain lines. It is also handy for electroplating with copper. Not sure about copper sulfide.
 
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