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UBC Theses and Dissertations

High temperature and high pressure cobalt cementation onto zinc dust Zaheri, Shahram


Trace amounts of electrolyte cobalt during zinc electrowinning (EW) significantly decrease the current efficiency of the EW process by accelerating the parasitic hydrogen evolution reaction. The maximum tolerable level of cobalt in zinc EW can be as low as 0.1- 0.3 mg/L. The typical method to remove cobalt from zinc electrolyte, which is based on cementation onto zinc dust at approximately 85°C, is not an efficient process. It suffers from long retention times (2-3 hours) and high consumption of reagents; especially zinc dust. The aim of the present research was to study cobalt cementation at high temperature and high pressure (HT/HP) to accelerate the rate of cobalt removal and reduce the consumption of the reagents (zinc dust and activators). Experimental variables included temperature (85-150°C), pressure (0-100 psig), zinc dust dosage, zinc dust particle size, and activators (copper and antimony). Based on this research, the following results were obtained: 1. Increasing temperature had a significant effect on the rate of cobalt removal. The optimum temperature was found to be 125°C - temperature at which the target level of cobalt (0.1 mg/L) could be met in 20 min. 2. At 125°C and in the presence of 2.5 mg/L Sb and 45 mg/L Cu, 3.5 g/L zinc dust was found as the optimum zinc dust addition to lower cobalt concentration from the initial level of 15 mg/L to below 0.1 mg/L. 3. Smaller zinc particles showed better cobalt removal results, but the cement redissolution was also more severe with these particles. 4. The role of Sb in the activation system was more important than Cu. However, the best result in terms of the rate and extent of cobalt removal was achieved when both of the activators were added to the solution together. 5. As expected, increasing the overhead pressure of N₂ (tested at 85°C) did not alter the cobalt removal profile greatly. Also, the effect of increasing the partial pressure of H₂ (tested at 125°C, and above the amount generated in situ by the reaction) on cobalt removal was negligible.

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