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Pollution Prevention and Control Technologies for Plating Operations

Section 3 - Chemical Recovery


3.5.8 Residuals Generation

The standard, flat plate cathode unit recovers metals in the form of metal sheets 1/8 to 3/8 inch thick. Some shops (e.g., PS 053) described their deposit as a metal sponge rather than a metal sheet. Depending on the purity of the deposit, which in turn will depend on the purity of the solution being recovered, these residuals can be either used as anodes, sold to a scrap dealer or refiner for recycle, or disposed of in a landfill. When sold as scrap, the plater receives approximately 50 to 90% of the commodity price for the material, depending mostly on quantity and purity. Some electrowinning cathodes are specifically designed to be hung in plating tanks after they are coated with metal and serve as anodes. This eliminates the need to mechanically remove the deposit.

The reticulate cathodes cannot be used as anodes. They must be either sent off-site for recovery or disposed of. Most of the shops responding to the survey that use reticulate cathodes send them to a scrap dealer. They receive approximately the same price as for flat plate cathode material.

The high surface area electrolytic units generate a strip solution that can be recycled to a plating bath, or more frequently, is recovered using conventional flat plate electrowinning.

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