Acid Mist Suppression in Copper Electrowinning

n the electrowinning of copper process, immersing metal cathodes and inert conductive anodes are employed in an aqueous solution of copper sulphate containing free sulphuric acid (CuSO4-H2SO4-H2O electrolyte). An electrical potential is applied between the anodes and cathodes, and pure metallic copper is generated from the electrolyte onto the cathodes. Copper is electrodeposited on the cathodes for about one week, after which harvesting is done while water dissociates into hydrogen ions and oxygen at the anode.

In the copper electrowinning process, sulphuric acid is used to leach the copper out to form a weak solution of copper sulphate which is then electrowon to recover the copper metal. The solution for electrowinning normally contains copper sulphate and sulphuric acid. A lead anode and stainless steel cathode are immersed in an electrolyte bath containing the copper sulphate/sulphuric acid solution. An electrical current passes from the anode to the cathode, giving rise to an electrochemical reaction whereby metallic copper is deposited onto the cathode. Simultaneously, oxygen is released at the anode surface. The oxygen form bubbles that detach from the anode and rise through the electrolyte. At the free surface of the electrolyte, the bubbles burst and give rise to acid mist which is a fine spray of acid droplets suspended in the air space above the electrolyte bath. Acid mist poses a significant health hazard to operators.

ChemShi™ Acid Mist Suppressant NF-100 is a fluorochemical additive that provides outstanding sulfuric acid mist suppression in the copper electrowinning tankhouse without the formation of a stable foam blanket at the surface of the electrowinning cell. NF-100 suppressant can significantly reduce tankhouse acid mist levels when used alone or in conjunction with mechanical barriers, such as polypropylene macrospheres, with no adverse effects to either the solvent extraction or electrowinning processInformation provided by ChemShi

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