Document Type : Original Article
School of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Process Control Unit, Khatoonabad Copper Refinery, Shahrebabak Copper Complex, Kerman, Iran
Research and Development Center, Shahrebabak Copper Complex, Kerman, Iran
In this study the factors that are affecting the copper nodular growth on the cathode edge were investigated from metallurgical and operation point of view. Statistical analysis was performed to evaluate the effect of operational conditions on the nodular copper growth by characterization of the nodule-containing cathodes. Besides, the effects of defects on polymer edge strips as well as changes in weight and thickness of anodes on the formation of nodules were investigated. Electrochemical galvanostatic experiments were employed to study the effect of electrolyte additives and the distance between the anode and cathode on cathode surface quality. A relatively large porosities of about 50 µm were observed in the microstructure of the cathode edge nodules. In addition, few nodule samples that were taken was observed to have a higher concentration of Fe, Cd and Pb, up to 25 ppm. Low probability (1%) in the repeatability of the nodule formation over the same position on the edge strip was approved the insignificant effect of possible edge strip defects on nodulation. The large weight variation of anodes can cause the anode thickness variation by 10 mm and consequently alter the distance between the anode and the cathode. This was shown to cause formation of nodules at the cathode edge. The peaks that were observed in the cathodic potential curves in galvanostatic tests, were believed to be the sign of nodulation and therefore was investigated further using the optical microscopic images.