Methanol and formic acid oxidation in zinc electrowinning under process conditions
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The possibility of using methanol or formic acid oxidation as the anode process in zinc electrowinning was examined. The activity for methanol and formic acid oxidation on Pt coated high surface area electrodes was investigated over 36 h, at a current density used in industry. The activity could be maintained at a constant potential level in a synthetic electrowinning electrolyte if the current was reversed for short periods. During the tests, the anode potential was, more than 1.2 V below the potential for the oxygen evolving lead anodes used in modern zinc electrowinning. The lowered anode potential would lead to a significant energy reduction. However, tests in industrial electrolyte resulted in a very low activity for both methanol and formic acid oxidation. The low activity was shown to be caused mainly by chloride impurities. A reduction of the chloride content below 10−5 M is needed in order to obtain sufficient activity for methanol oxidation on Pt for use in zinc electrowinning. Pt and PtRu electrodes were compared regarding their activity for methanol oxidation and the latter was shown to be more affected by chloride impurities. However, at a potential of 0.7 V vs NHE, with a chloride content of 10−4 M, formic acid oxidation on PtRu gives the highest current density.
KeywordsAnode reaction Zinc electrowinning Formic acid Methanol
Financial support from Permascand AB and Vinnova is gratefully acknowledged. Boliden Kokkola Oy is acknowledged for the provision of industrial electrolyte and Permascand AB for the provision of electrodes.
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