Electrochemical copper recovery from galvanic sludge

Huyen, Pham T. and Dang, T.D. and Tung, Mai T. and Huyen, Nguyen T.T. and Green, T.A. and Roy, S. (2016) Electrochemical copper recovery from galvanic sludge. Hydrometallurgy, 164. pp. 295-303. ISSN 0304-386X (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hydromet.2016.06.028)

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The feasibility of recovering copper from electronic industrial waste mud (galvanic sludge) using a combination of leaching and electrowinning has been examined. Leaching with sulfuric acid was found to be the most efficient and cost-effective way of extracting the copper from the sludge, and the optimum acid concentration and time were determined. The copper was then extracted by electrowinning in a batch recirculation electrochemical reactor (Porocell™) employing a three-dimensional carbon felt cathode. The influence of applied current, flow rate and the presence of other metal ion contaminates on the rate and current efficiency of copper electrowinning was investigated. An analysis of the experimental data showed that the current efficiency was lower than unity even though the limiting current for copper deposition was not exceeded. This low current efficiency was attributed to the occurrence of a side reaction, most likely the reduction of dissolved oxygen or oxygen-induced corrosion. The influence of this side reaction can be minimized by operating at relatively high currents and low flow rates.