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Selective dissolution of copper

I am trying to recover copper from a component which also has a lot of steel embedded. Tried the conventional copper sulphate [on eBay or Amazon affil link]bath, but the copper seems to be passivating, preventing any dissolution and deposition at cathode. I used the composite (copper-steel) as anode and copper sheets as cathode. Any suggestions?

Palaniappa M
Researcher - Hyderabad, AP, India
September 3, 2010

You may want to try an ammonium carbonate leaching solution. This will dissolve the copper, but not the steel.
It is a slow process, but it works.

On initial make-up, you may need to add some copper sulphate to get the stripping activity started.

Lyle Kirman

Lyle Kirman
consultant - Cleveland Heights, Ohio
September 7, 2010

Thanx Lyle Kirman. The problem I am facing is, there is a stock of about 1.5Tonnnes of material with ~1:1 Cu:Fe. I am keen in recovering metals from this composite. Thus I would be interested in some electrochemical process, where one of the metal can be deposited on the cathode and other can be recovered as leftover. Any suggestions/solutions will be appreciated.

Palaniappa M
- Hyderabad, AP, India
September 9, 2010

Remember that your electrolyte has a saturation point. Also, dissolution of iron produces a lot of hydrogen. You need to frequently add more acid and remove dissolved metal.
G. Marrufo-Mexico

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico
September 12, 2010

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