Mechanism of selective gold extraction from multi-metal chloride solutions by electrodeposition-redox replacement

Ivan Korolev, Stylianos Spathariotis, Kirsi Yliniemi, Benjamin P. Wilson, Andrew Abbott, Mari Lundström*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
62 Downloads (Pure)


The electrodeposition-redox replacement (EDRR) process is a promising method for a selective extraction of minor metals from complex mixtures. When it is performed in a benign medium (such as sodium chloride solution or deep eutectic solvent), the EDRR method provides a non-toxic alternative for a conventional cyanide-based process. The detailed reaction mechanisms of the EDRR in Cu–Au systems, as well as the effect of the reaction medium are elucidated in this article. Electrogravimetric studies show that the EDRR process comprises three distinct stages: (1) deposition of Cu at a constant applied potential; (2) dissolution of deposited Cu at open circuit conditions in reaction with dissolved species in solution; (3) reduction of Au to elemental form in reaction with various Cu species. It is discovered that the recovery of Au takes place surprisingly via both the redox replacement between Cu and Au at the surface and the homogeneous Au reduction by Cu(I) species in solution. Both of these reaction pathways are facilitated by open circuit conditions (redox replacement step) between electrodeposition cycles and the utilization of other sacrificial elements in the solution is crucial. The use of aqueous chloride solution is advantageous over 1 : 2 ChCl : EG for the increased Au recovery (94.4%) and the purity of the product (93.7%), although it consumes slightly more electricity. Therefore, the EDRR enables energy and resource efficient selective extraction of Au from multi-metal industrial solutions even when it is present at low concentrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3615-3625
Number of pages11
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number11
Early online date19 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Gold chlorides
  • electrodeposition-redox replacement
  • Hydrometallurgy
  • RRDE
  • Metal recovery
  • Waste valorisation


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  • University of Leicester

    Ivan Korolev (Visiting researcher)

    1 Feb 201910 May 2019

    Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

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