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topic 10731

Remove non ferrous metal from ferrous metal


Q. Dear sir,

I am working in a recycle drum factory as Quality Coordinator in Johor, Malaysia. In our company we decided to start a recycle company. We want to recycle copper. We will go to collect the copper from some electronic factories. This copper is coated with iron. So we want to remove the iron coating. I tried in lab by using aqua-regia (aqua regia 1:3 of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid) I got only 23% of copper. But we expect it has 90% copper. At the same time a lot of brown fumes are also coming. So we will decide to do this under a vacuum. I want to know that any other simple method to separate the copper from the iron. Please reply me as early as possible.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

trading co. - Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia


A. The reason the copper came out low was the fact that the acid mix dissolved the copper as well. Try once more but use only the hydrochloric acid diluted 50% with water. The non-oxidizing acid should be less aggressive towards the copper than the iron. Also you will not get the brown nitrogen oxide fumes (which are very nasty / toxic).

Martin Trigg-Hogarth
Martin Trigg-Hogarth
surface treatment shop - Stroud, Glos, England

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