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Suspending iron objects in copper wastewater

I am a six year old in College at The University of Michigan and I have a question for Ted Mooney. Individuals living near copper mines sometime earn extra money by suspending iron objects in the waste waters. What is their secret? Thanks Ted

Carl C
Student - Ann Arbor, MI, United States

Ed. note: "A six year old in College". Is there a typo in there somewhere, Carl?

November , 2006

I have heard of this general idea as a wastewater treatment methodology, and think I may have seen it 40 years ago, as scrap autos in a stream (although it could be a false memory based on a colorful description by someone else who did see it). But I would be surprised if it is still done or if any money could be made at it.

Basically, copper is more noble than iron, so if an iron object like a scrap auto is placed in a waste stream that contains copper, the copper will "immersion deposit". That means an atom of iron will dissolve into the solution and an atom of copper will plate out. But as soon as no more iron is exposed the reaction stops. So the coating is very very thin and I don't see how the copper coated item could have any value. Maybe I will learn something from a subsequent response.

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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