The role of zinc and sulfuric acid concentrations on zinc electrowinning from industrial sulfate based electrolyte
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The effects of varying simultaneously the zinc/acid concentrations at a fixed total sulfate, on the current efficiency, energy requirements, and deposit physical characteristics for the zinc electrowinning, using Kidd Creek zinc electrolyte, were investigated. The electrowinning experiments were conducted using a laboratory scale apparatus, at plating cycles of 24 and 30 h, a current density of 500 A m−2 and a temperature of 38 °C. These conditions are typical of those applied at the Kidd Creek zinc tankhouse. The reagents presently used at Kidd Creek, namely strontium carbonate, Saponin, Dowfroth 250, antimony and sodium silicate, were also continuously added to the cell electrolyte at levels similar to Kidd Creek practice. Scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques were used to characterize the deposits with respect to morphology and preferred orientation, respectively. Cyclic voltammetry was used to study the effect of the zinc/acid concentrations on the polarization behaviour of the electrolyte. In addition, the electrical conductivity of the Kidd Creek zinc electrolyte was measured and compared with other industrial sulfate-based zinc electrolytes.
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