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Open AccessArticle

Electrowinning of Iron from Spent Leaching Solutions Using Novel Anion Exchange Membranes

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Focus Area: Chemical Resource Beneficiation, Faculty of Natural Sciences, North-West University, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa
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Institute of Chemical Process Engineering, University of Stuttgart, D-70199 Stuttgart, Germany
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Bruinsma Solutions, 10 Mclagen Str., Potchefstroom 2531, South Africa
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Membranes 2019, 9(11), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/membranes9110137
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 16 October 2019 / Accepted: 18 October 2019 / Published: 24 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue EWM 2019: Membranes for a Sustainable Future)
In the Pyror process, electrowinning (EW) is used to recover acid and iron from spent leaching solutions (SLS), where a porous Terylene membrane acts as a separator between the cathode and anode. In this study, a novel anion exchange membrane (AEM)-based EW process is benchmarked against a process without and with a porous Terylene membrane by comparing the current efficiency, specific energy consumption (SEC), and sulfuric acid generation using an in-house constructed EW flow cell. Using an FAP-PK-130 commercial AEM, it was shown that the AEM-based process was more efficient than the traditional processes. Subsequently, 11 novel polybenzimidazole (PBI)-based blend AEMs were compared with the commercial AEM. The best performing novel AEM (BM-5), yielded a current efficiency of 95% at an SEC of 3.53 kWh/kg Fe, which is a 10% increase in current efficiency and a 0.72 kWh/kg Fe decrease in SEC when compared to the existing Pyror process. Furthermore, the use of the novel BM-5 AEM resulted in a 0.22 kWh/kg Fe lower SEC than that obtained with the commercial AEM, also showing mechanical stability in the EW flow cell. Finally, it was shown that below 5 g/L Fe, side reactions at the cathode resulted in a decrease in process efficiency, while 40 g/L yielded the highest efficiency and lowest SECs. View Full-Text
Keywords: electrowinning; anion exchange membranes; waste treatment; iron sulphate disposal; acid regeneration electrowinning; anion exchange membranes; waste treatment; iron sulphate disposal; acid regeneration
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Badenhorst, W.D.; Rossouw, C.; Cho, H.; Kerres, J.; Bruinsma, D.; Krieg, H. Electrowinning of Iron from Spent Leaching Solutions Using Novel Anion Exchange Membranes. Membranes 2019, 9, 137.

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