Experimental Nickel-Cobalt Recovery From Melt-Refined Superalloy Scrap Anodes
Description:The Bureau of Mines is conducting research to recover strategic and critical metals such as Ni, Co, and Cr from mixed contaminated super-alloy scrap. One approach being studied involves melt refining of superalloy scrap to produce anodes for electrolytic deposition of Ni-Co alloy. This melt refining of superalloy turnings is described based on melt-oxidation and oxidation-carburization experiments, using roasted superalloy grinding sludge to supply the 0 needed to oxidize Cr and other readily oxidized elements to the slag. Controlled melt-carburization subsequent to oxidation improved the metal phase recovery of Ni and Co to well over 90 pct and decreased electrolytic solubility of Cr, Mo, and W by carbide formation. Electrolytic refining experiments were conducted using a controlled-potential mode (preset cathode potential). Data show effects of Fe and Cr impurities, cation concentration, electrolyte pH, S04-Cl electrolyte ratio, temperature, cathode potential, and cation-selective membrane use on current efficiency, current density, and deposit composition. Disposition of Ni, Co, Cr, MO, W, and Fe is compared for melt-oxidized versus oxidized-plus-carburized anodes. Deposits containing >97 pct Ni + Co (major impurity Fe) have been routinely obtained from scrap anodes. Research is continuing to improve deposit quality in sustained deposition and to recover Cr and other metals from refining slags and anode sludges.
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