Defective Capacitors. In November 2002, it was found that as many as eleven manufacturers of capacitors in Taiwan had been provided with a improperly mixed electrolyte that can cause their low ESR products to fail spontaneously. The culprit was an electrolyte for aluminum low ESR capacitors that was purported to be equivalent to a more expensive Japanese PV-50 electrolyte. Although the Taiwanese product had acceptable electrical properties, it had an improper additive mixture that allowed excessive hydrogen gas production. Capacitors made with the improper electrolyte are prone to pop their seals and spill their contents onto the circuit board.

Low ESR capacitors are primarily used in switching power supplies such as those in desktop PCs. They are reportedly also used on motherboards. The defective components apparently were widely distributed in East Asia during the early Autumn of 2002.

In the Autumn of 2005, unrelated(?) but similar problems were reported with capacitors manufactured in the 2003-4 time frame by Nichicon in Japan and used by Dell, Apple and HP in some products.

For more details on bad capacitors and which products might be affected, see:

Return To Index Copyright 1994-2002 by Donald Kenney.