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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of some aspects of cerium electrowinning Thomas, Norman Bruce


Several aspects of the production of cerium by electrolytic reduction were investigated to determine more efficient operation. The solubility of cerium oxide in a molten fluoride salt bath(CeF₃, BaF₂, LiF) was determined by measuring the change in electrical conductivity of the bath as a function of added cerium oxide. The saturation solubility was found to be 2.9 wt% at 900 °C. The solubility was found to increase with temperature. Increasing the cerium fluoride content of the electrolyte also showed a small increase in the solubility. There was no difference found between the solubility of cerous oxide and eerie oxide. A heat balance model of a pilot plant scale cerium electrowinning cell was developed to improve cell design. The results of the model showed that most of the heat is lost through the anodes. The model showed that reducing the number of anodes and increasing their size would reduce heat losses, and thus improve cell operation. Increasing the-amount of insulation would reduce heat losses and make maintenance of the cell easier. It was also found that the production of lanthanum, praseodymium, and neodymium by electrolytic reduction of their respective oxides would be feasible.

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