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Minerals & Metallurgical Processing Journal  

Effective diffusivity of ferric ions and current efficiency in stagnant synthetic copper electrowinning solutions

Minerals & Metallurgical Processing, 2009, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 179-186

Moats, M.; Khouraibchia, Y.


Copper electrowinning operations have dramatically improved their ability to produce high quality copper at low costs over the past several decades. Even so, some fundamental knowledge is still lacking that could allow operations to run even more efficiently. For example, a rule of thumb exists that estimates a current efficiency loss of 2-3% per gram per liter of iron in the electrolyte. While several laboratory studies have been performed that demonstrate this rule of thumb is likely true, no definitive relationship exists. In this paper, the first steps in developing a definitive relationship are presented. The effective diffusivity of ferric ions in synthetic copper electrowinning solutions was measured using chronoamperometry and the Cottrell equation. The effective diffusivity of ferric ion was determined as a function of electrolyte concentration and temperature. Synthetic electrolytes were then used in laboratory-scaled copper electrowinning experiments, where relationships between current efficiency and solution composition were found to exist under stagnant conditions. 

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