Studies on the cathodic polarization behavior of copper sulfide electrodes have been conducted by the Bureau of Mines as part of an investigation of the simultaneous production of soluble copper at mineral anodes and soluble sulfur species at mineral cathodes by electrolysis in membrane cells. The application of a cathodic current to anodically polarized copper sulfide electrodes was used to reduce the surface product layer to either chalcocite or elemental copper. The effect of cathodic treatment was to allow additional anodic current application at low potential values. Low potentials would greatly improve the economics of a process based on these concepts. Rest potential and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopic data were used to help identify the surface product layers formed by anodic and cathodic treatment. A cyclic anodic- cathodic technique to achieve dissolution of copper sulfide minerals is suggested.
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