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Electrowinning zinc from zinc chloride in monopolar and bipolar fused-salt cells.

Hill SD; Pool DL; Smyres GA
Reno, NV: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, RI 8524, 1981 Jan; :1-24
To help insure the continued viability of the minerals and materials sector of the U.S. economy, the Bureau of Mines is conducting research and disseminating technology that will result in more efficient minerals extraction. As part of this effort, a process is being investigated that involves an aqueous chlorine-oxygen leaching procedure to treat complex sulfide concentrates to produce ZnCl2. Subsequent fused-salt electrolysis of the ZnCl2 produces high-purity zinc metal. Previous reports described preliminary, small-scale research on the chlorine-oxygen leaching system and fused-salt electrolysis of ZnCl2. This report discusses the details of design, construction, and long-term, continuous operation of both monopolar and biopolar fused-salt cells. The effects of temperature, electrode gap, current density, electrolyte composition, and electrode configuration on current efficiency and energy consumption were determined for a ZnCl2-KCl-NaCl electrolyte system. Zinc metal was produced at the rate of about 50 lb/day in a monopolar cell which was operated continuously for 60 days with current efficiencies from 85.8 to 98.6 pct and an average power consumption of 2.1 Kwhr/lb. Bipolar cells with several different electrode configurations were operated for 90 days. A current efficiency of about 70 pct and power consumption of about 1.7 Kwhr/lb of zinc were achieved using a three-electrode-pair, bipolar assembly with a chlorine gas lift pump to circulate electrolyte.
Zinc compounds; Technology transfer; Mineral processing; Metal compounds; Metals
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IH; Report of Investigations
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Reno, NV: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, RI 8524
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division