I am in the process of restoring an old computer. The problem with the computer is that it has a NiCad battery fitted to the motherboard, which powers a real-time-clock circuit. The NiCad battery has leaked onto the motherboard. The leaked material has caused quite extensive damage, which I am cleaning and repairing. See here and here.
I am curious about this leaked material. Here is what I (think) I understand so far:
- NiCad batteries use potassium hydroxide as an electrolyte, and this is the material which has leaked from the battery.
- The potassium hydroxide forms potassium carbonate when it reacts with the carbon dioxide in the surrounding air.
- Some white(ish) powder has formed on the battery terminals themselves. Is this potassium carbonate?
- The effect of the battery leakage has been quite widespread corrosion of metals, mainly electronic components. The corrosion has spread much further than the leakage site. How?
- Why does the material attack metal? Do both materials (potassium hydroxide and potassium carbonate) attack metal, or does one of these have more of an effect on metals than the other?
- Are any other chemicals likely to have formed that I have not considered? (e.g. there are green/blue deposits to be found in areas affected by the leakage)
Having pieced together some information from reading on the internet, I have formed a bit of an opinion about the process which has unfolded here. And I'd like to run it by you all to see what you think about it:
- When the battery started to leak, the potassium hydroxide reacted with the air and formed potassium carbonate, as a white powder on the battery terminals.
- When all of the carbon dioxide in the air was depleted (due to closed computer cover), the potassium hydroxide stopped forming potassium carbonate. And this is when it began to attack the metals.
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!
The purpose of my questions is purely to satisfy my curiosity. If someone takes the time to respond, and share their knowledge, then I respect that and I am grateful. So I just wanted to say thank you in advance!