How does it work?
Applied Mineral Accretion Technology
To achieve mineral accretion, a special kind of setup is required. If built properly, it will produce an electrochemical reaction that occurs due to an impressed low voltage current running from an Anode to a Cathode. The result of this process is a build up of calcium carbonate on the Cathode and the creation of a favorable environment for attached coral.
The technical setup comes into play when facing the challenge of getting the current to the Cathode. The best way of doing so is by acknowledging there are three main problems that need to be addressed:
First there is the challenge to get access to some sort of power source and transporting it to where it should be applied. The next thing to get sorted out is the construction of every part involved. The sea can be a harsh environment so whatever is constructed needs to be rugged and waterproof enough to lasts multiple years submerged preferably without requiring maintenance. The last hurdle to take concerns the choice of anode material and anything electrically connected to it. At the anode side of things, the occurring electrochemical reactions impose an immense stress only very noble materials can withstand. So whatever components are necessary, they need to be made out of either platinum, niobium or titanium. Platinum is a good choice if you are a billionaire, if not, titanium will do just fine. Up until 8 Volt.
The Anodes used in all CoralAID setups are made of a Grade 1 Titanium mesh substrate covered in MMO (mixed metal oxide) to give it the required conductivity. Grade 1 Titanium is the most pure commercially available form. Being that pure makes it completely inert as long as the applied voltage doesn’t get too high. It’s not too strong though, so for all connections, Grade 2 nuts and bolts are used. A lot stronger and sufficiently inert not to dissolve under the enormous Anodic pressure. The MMO ceramic layer which covers the titanium is only a few microns thick combination of iridium-oxide and ruthenium-oxide. This material was developed for the chlorine industry in the 1970s and perfectly up to the task of helping out our coral in need.
Want to experiment with building your own setup? Please do. The most important things on your shopping list are: profound knowledge of electronics, resourcefulness and some anode material. Prefabricated is easiest, for example a CPCCSWT20. (http://www.cpanode.com/Anode_Tubular.asp). If you feel lucky and want to make one yourself try buying at http://store.theamateurchemist.com/electrodes/. Remember not to raise the voltage too much. 5 Volt will usually do just fine. Make sure you never use anything above 8 Volt anywhere in your setup. And please never ignore the fact that electricity and water are potentially dangerous so keep it safe and consider this a disclaimer.
An example of a simple setup. No fancy features but quite some amps all the same.