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:: XTEW Reagent - On the Level for Copper Electrowinning
The discovery of a new reagent for copper electrowinning has the potential to deliver significant gains in cathode quality of electrowon copper at high current densities. Xstrata Technology has partnered with James Cook University (JCU) in the research and development of a new levelling agent for use in electrowinning, called XTEW Reagent. XT and JCU have been supported with a Research Industry Partnership Program (RIPP) grant from the Queensland State Government, to further the research and development of the XTEW Reagent.
The research investigated the behaviour of a range of chemical structures, to identify the reagent with the best performance for copper electrowinning, as well as investigating analytical methods to measure the XTEW Reagent in the copper electrolyte. In parallel, XT conducted progressive scale up tests and trials using XTEW Reagent in copper electrowinning at laboratory scale, pilot plant scale as well as in an operating plant.
To date, the research has revealed that under typical electrowinning operating current densities, the use of XTEW Reagent in combination with guar resulted in superior cathode quality compared with using the reagents on their own. This behaviour can be compared with the combined electrochemical effects of using thiourea, gelatin, and chloride to produce high quality copper cathode in an electro refinery. Furthermore the research has shown XTEW Reagent displays superior cathode quality at high current density, in a zone where guar became less effective.
Further industrial trials using XTEW Reagent over a wider range of conditions in a copper electrowinning operation is planned for 2011.
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