Zinc Whiskers: How Equipment Level Air Filtration Mitigates Risk

Zinc Whiskers in Telecom Central Offices

Zinc whiskers are tiny, hair-like crystals that can form on the surface of steel items that have been electroplated with zinc. They are a serious concern in telecom central offices, as they can cause short circuits and other damage to sensitive equipment.  Zinc whiskers can range in size up to 1-2mm in length and 5 microns in diameter.

Zinc whiskers are formed when zinc atoms migrate to the surface of the steel and then precipitate out in the form of crystals. The exact mechanism by which this happens is not fully understood, but it is believed to be influenced by factors such as the temperature, humidity, and electrical field strength in the environment.

Zinc whiskers can be very small, often measuring just a few micrometers in length. However, they can be very strong and brittle, and they can easily pierce insulation and cause short circuits. In addition, zinc whiskers can be conductive, which means that they can also cause problems with electrical circuits, leading to failures in line cards, circuit boards, power supplies, and fan assemblies.

How Proper Equipment Level Air Filtration Helps Avoid Zinc Whiskers from Getting into Sensitive Equipment

Proper equipment-level air filtration is essential for preventing zinc whiskers from getting into sensitive equipment in telecom central offices. Using Universal Air Filter’s OEM specified air filters are effective in protecting network equipment from infiltration of zinc whiskers, dust, and other dangerous particles.  UAF’s unique Quadrafoam® media is effective in capturing particles as small as 5 microns and offers superior fire resistance and efficiency.

UAF is the OEM supplier of most filtered network equipment found in the field.  The best way to choose the right equipment air filtration for your telecom central office is to consult with one of UAF’s qualified air filtration specialist.

By properly filtering the air in your telecom central office, you can help to prevent the impact from zinc whiskers circulating and causing damage to sensitive equipment. Contact UAF today to learn more about our diverse suite of filtration products for telecom network equipment and how we can help keep your central office running safely, reliability, and efficiently.