Selective Reductant Electrowinning for Metal Recovery and Waste Reduction

G.G. Botte
Ohio University,
United States

Keywords: waste remediation, metal recovery, water treatment


Challenges to current industrial wastewater containing organic materials and metals include low metal concentration in waste, high energy consumption and high carbon footprint. Our proposed solution – Selective Reductant Electrowinning (SRE) – allows for advanced water treatment by simultaneous removal of organics/inorganics (oxidation) and metal ions (reduction) for water remediation and lower energy consumption. This processes is energy efficient by coupling systems with overlapping chemical potentials for reduced energy consumption. This characteristic also makes the technology selective to a variety of metals and provides flexibility waste stream remediation, while capitalizing on a holistic analysis of waste streams in a process. This technology can be expanded to focus on a variety of electronic waste (e-waste), thus including the semi-conductor and solar industry among others. The proposed concept presents a foundation for solving industry needs in water and advanced electrowinning. A needs assessment conducted by the Center for Electrochemical Engineering Research (CEER) at Ohio University for a NIST Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMTech) road map revealed this is a “critical” and “competitive” area among companies. Metals such as Ni, Co, Cr, Ag, Au etc. are widely used as base catalysts for many industrial applications and processes: oil refineries, batteries, chemical processes, air emissions control, circuit boards etc., and post-processing recovery represent an area for innovation. In addition, considering the combination of technology innovation, increasing demand for battery power and increasing price of lithium (The Economist, January 16th 2016 issue), this SRE technology demonstrates its place in the value chain for resource recovery and market balance. By leveraging the expertise of the CEER, test beds can be developed and modified for individual industry needs.