The federal Bureau of Mines investigated aqueous electrolysis as a means for reducing lead chloride prepared by ferric chloride leaching of galena concentrate: nacl, pbs + 2fecl3 -> pbcl2 + 2fecl2 + s deg. During electrolysis, metal was produced from solid lead chloride in contact with the cathode rather than from lead in solution. Relatively high current densities--up to 300 amp/ft2-- were possible when operating in this way. A very simple cell, having a horizontal lead cathode at the bottom and a vertical graphite anode at the top, was employed. Lead chloride crystals, covering the cathode, were converted to metal powder during electrolysis, and chlorine gas or fecl3 was produced at the anode, depending on the electrolyte composition. Electrolytes tried included aqueous solutions of hcl, nacl, nh4cl, and fecl2-nacl. Optimum results (96-pct current efficiency, 0.23 Kwhr/lb pb) were obtained with 20 pct hcl at 25 deg c, using a current density of 15 amp/ft2 and an electrode spacing of 1 inch. When the current density was increased, the energy requirement increased also but only to 0.41 Kwhr/lb at 150 amp/ft2 and 0.58 Kwhr/lb at 300 amp/ft2.
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