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Open AccessArticle

Influence of Current Density on the Microstructure of Carbon-Based Cathode Materials during Aluminum Electrolysis

by Wei Wang 1,2,3,* and Kai Sun 1,2,3
1
College of Materials Science and Engineering, Henan University of Science and Technology, Luoyang 471023, China
2
Collaborative Innovation Center of Nonferrous Metals Henan Province, Luoyang 471023, China
3
Henan Key Laboratory of Non-ferrous Materials Science & Processing Technology, Luoyang 471023, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(7), 2228; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10072228
Received: 24 February 2020 / Revised: 13 March 2020 / Accepted: 24 March 2020 / Published: 25 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Carbon Nanostructures: Fabrication and Applications)
Sodium expansion plays an important role in cathode deterioration during aluminum electrolysis. In this work, the sodium expansion of semigraphitic cathode material has been measured at various cathodic current densities using a modified Rapoport apparatus. We have studied the microstructural changes of carbon cathodes after aluminum electrolysis using high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM). Because of an increasing trend toward higher amperage in retrofitted aluminum reduction cells, an investigation is conducted both at a representative cathode current density (0.45 A/cm2) and at a high cathodic current density (0.7 A/cm2). The results indicate that the microstructures of carbon cathodes can be modified by Joule heating and electrostatic charging with higher current densities during aluminum electrolysis. With the penetration of the sodium and melt, zigzag and armchair edges, disordered carbon, and exfoliation of the surface layers may appear in the interior of the carbon cathode. The penetration of the sodium and melt causes remarkable stresses and strains in the carbon cathodes, that gradually result in performance degradation. This shows that increasing the amperage in aluminum reduction cells may exacerbate the material deterioration of the cathodes. View Full-Text
Keywords: aluminum electrolysis; carbon cathode; current density; zigzag and armchair edges; materials deterioration aluminum electrolysis; carbon cathode; current density; zigzag and armchair edges; materials deterioration
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Wang, W.; Sun, K. Influence of Current Density on the Microstructure of Carbon-Based Cathode Materials during Aluminum Electrolysis. Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 2228.

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