Diffusion and convection are the main modes of mass transport that occur during copper electrorefining. Diffusion determines the rate of copper transfer across the diffusion layer, which in turn, affects the dissolution of the anode and deposition on the cathode. The diffusion coefficient of cupric ion (D Cu(II) ) is a typical property that can be defined from the limiting current density (j lim ) values. In this work, the limiting current densities were measured for 24 different synthetic copper electrolytes over a temperature range of 50–70 °C using a rotating disc electrode (RDE). From this data, a model for j lim and the corresponding models for D Cu(II) were constructed using Levich (Model L), Koutecký-Levich (Model K) and mixed-control Newman equations (Model M). The models for j lim and D Cu(II) were designed, refined and analyzed using the modeling and design tool MODDE, with the temperature, copper, nickel, arsenic and sulfuric acid concentrations as variables. Results from this research show for the first time that an increase in arsenic concentration has a reciprocal effect on the D Cu(II) under copper electrorefining conditions. Furthermore, the models were validated with 11 industrial electrorefining electrolytes with known compositions. Model L (D Cu(II) based on Levich equation) was shown to provide the highest correlation with the industrial solutions when compared to the other models (Model K and M) considered and previously published diffusion coefficient models. Overall, this work provides an explanation for the previously observed data variances in the literature, investigates for the first time the combined effect of parameters on D Cu(II) value in industrial copper electrolysis and clarifies the effect of arsenic on the D Cu(II) of copper electrorefining electrolytes.
- Arsenic impurities
- Copper electrorefining electrolyte
- Cupric ion
- Diffusion coefficient