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Metals 2016, 6(1), 23;

The Eh-pH Diagram and Its Advances

Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Montana Tech, Butte, MT 59701, USA
Academic Editors: Suresh Bhargava, Mark Pownceby and Rahul Ram
Received: 29 July 2015 / Revised: 22 December 2015 / Accepted: 28 December 2015 / Published: 14 January 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hydrometallurgy)


Since Pourbaix presented Eh versus pH diagrams in his “Atlas of Electrochemical Equilibria in Aqueous Solution”, diagrams have become extremely popular and are now used in almost every scientific area related to aqueous chemistry. Due to advances in personal computers, such diagrams can now show effects not only of Eh and pH, but also of variables, including ligand(s), temperature and pressure. Examples from various fields are illustrated in this paper. Examples include geochemical formation, corrosion and passivation, precipitation and adsorption for water treatment and leaching and metal recovery for hydrometallurgy. Two basic methods were developed to construct an Eh-pH diagram concerning the ligand component(s). The first method calculates and draws a line between two adjacent species based on their given activities. The second method performs equilibrium calculations over an array of points (500 × 800 or higher are preferred), each representing one Eh and one pH value for the whole system, then combines areas of each dominant species for the diagram. These two methods may produce different diagrams. The fundamental theories, illustrated results, comparison and required conditions behind these two methods are presented and discussed in this paper. The Gibbs phase rule equation for an Eh-pH diagram was derived and verified from actual plots. Besides indicating the stability area of water, an Eh-pH diagram normally shows only half of an overall reaction. However, merging two or more related diagrams together reveals more clearly the possibility of the reactions involved. For instance, leaching of Au with cyanide followed by cementing Au with Zn (Merrill-Crowe process) can be illustrated by combining Au-CN and Zn-CN diagrams together. A second example of the galvanic conversion of chalcopyrite can be explained by merging S, Fe–S and Cu–Fe–S diagrams. The calculation of an Eh-pH diagram can be extended easily into another dimension, such as the concentration of a given ligand, temperature or showing the solubility of stable solids. A personal computer is capable of drawing the diagram by utilizing a 3D program, such as ParaView, or VisIt, or MATLAB. Two 3D wireframe volume plots of a Uranium-carbonate system from Garrels and Christ were used to verify the Eh-pH calculation and the presentation from ParaView. Although a two-dimensional drawing is still much clearer to read, a 3D graph can allow one to visualize an entire system by executing rotation, clipping, slicing and making a movie. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pourbaix diagram; Eh-pH diagram; Eh-pH applications; ligand component; equilibrium line; mass balance point; Gibbs phase rule; 3D Eh-pH diagrams; ParaView; VisIt; MATLAB Pourbaix diagram; Eh-pH diagram; Eh-pH applications; ligand component; equilibrium line; mass balance point; Gibbs phase rule; 3D Eh-pH diagrams; ParaView; VisIt; MATLAB

Figure 1

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Huang, H.-H. The Eh-pH Diagram and Its Advances. Metals 2016, 6, 23.

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