Electrochemical recovery of zinc from the spent pickling baths coming from the hot dip galvanizing industry. Potentiostatic operation

Autores UPV
Revista Separation and Purification Technology


An electrochemical reactor was developed to recover zinc from the spent pickling solutions coming from the hot dip galvanizing industry. These solutions mainly contain ZnCl2 and FeCl2 in aqueous HCl media. The effect of the applied potential on the figures of merit (fractional conversion, current efficiency, space-time yield and specific energy consumption) of the electrochemical reactor was analysed. Voltammetric experiments were performed previously in order to select the optimum conditions to be applied in the electrolysis experiments. From the I-V curves it was inferred that bulk zinc deposition started from potential values more cathodic than -0.99 V. The hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) appeared from -0.45 V and masked the zinc cathodic peak C1, related to bulk zinc deposition, at high HCl concentrations. The presence of HCl inhibited iron deposition in synthetic samples. The additives present in the real baths, which diminish the massive hydrogen generation, allowed the observation of peak C1. The potential values to be applied in the electrolysis experiments were chosen from the voltammetric experiments and ranged between -1 V and -1.75 V. In the absence of iron in solution, as the electrode potential was shifted towards more negative values, the space-time yield of zinc and its fractional conversion increased because of the increase in the electrode roughness and the hydrogen turbulence-promoting action. Simultaneously, the specific energy consumption decreased initially due to the increase in the zinc conversion rate but decreased for the most cathodic potential value due to HER. The presence of iron in synthetic solutions led to a decrease in current efficiency associated with the reverse redox Fe 2+/Fe3+ system and to the enhancement of the HER, which also induced increments in the local pH and the subsequent zinc redissolution for the most cathodic potential values. On the contrary, the additives present in the real spent pickling baths avoided the adverse effects of iron, and zinc electrodeposition was possible even at high cathodic potential values. In fact, a potential value of -1.75 V was selected as the optimum since the conversion, the current efficiency and the space time yield obtained in the real baths were relatively high. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.