Additonal authors: Aji, A. T.. Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:
The settling properties of anode slime in copper electrorefining have crucial effect on copper cathode quality. Anode slime settling is affected by electrolyte composition and temperature, electrolyte circulation, and the sizes and density of the slime particles and agglomerates. Typically, the industrial copper electrolytes contain 40–60 g/dm3 Cu2+, 130–220 g/dm3 H2SO4, 0.04–25 g/dm3 Ni2+, 0.005–30 g/dm3 As, and have operating temperature of 55–70°C. In optimal electrorefining process, the settling rate of anode slime is sufficiently high to avoid the risk of getting the slime entrapped in copper cathodes. In this research the settling properties of copper electrorefining bottom slimes, mainly consisting of Cu, Ni, Ag, Se, Pb, As, Bi, Sb and Ba compounds, were studied by settling rate tests. The tests were conducted in water and synthetic electrolytes with known viscosities and densities. In addition, the effect of agglomeration was taken into account – it was observed that breaking the agglomerates which existed in the as-received slimes decreased the particle sizes on average 56–73%, which decreased the settling rate. The results of this study provide detailed information of anode slime settling and thus clarify the conditions causing cathode contamination risks in copper electrorefining.
Settling rates of Cu-ER anode slimes affect the purity of cathode copper and faster settling rate decreases the contamination risk (Davenport et al., 2002; Shi & Ye, 2013). The settling rates are affected by the properties of anode slime particles (Wills & Napier-Munn, 2011; Aaltonen, 2014; Kiviluoma, Aaltonen, Aromaa, Lundström & Forsén, 2016) as well as viscosity and density of the electrolyte (Davenport, King, Schlesinger, Biswas, & Robinson, 2002; Shi & Ye, 2013). Thus, it is crucial to find out how the viscosity and density affect the settling rates. Small spherical particles with diameter below approximately 50 µm obey Stokes’ law (Equation 1) (Wills & Napier-Munn, 2011).
v = gd 2 (ρS – ρF) (18η) -1 (1)
where v is terminal velocity (m/s), g acceleration due to gravity (m/s2), d diameter of particle (m), ρS density of particle (kg/m3), ρF density of fluid (kg/m3), and η dynamic viscosity (Pa∙s). The approximate effects of kinematic viscosity (ν = η / ρS), density (ρS) and particle sizes on settling rates defined for small anode slime particles based on Stokes’ law are presented in Figure 1. However, Stokes’ law does not take into account other than spherical shapes, and it is only applicable for small particles. Consequently, the real settling rates of the particles are lower than these (Wills & Napier-Munn, 2011). Moreover, some of the anode slime particles are larger than 50 µm (Aaltonen, 2014).