Date of Award


Degree Type

Bachelors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Curtis Laws Wilson, Professor of Metallurgy


It is a well-known fact that, in the electrolysis of a CuSO4 solution containing iron sulfate, using insoluble anodes, with the depletion of copper, the point is finally reached where the current efficiency becomes zero. This decrease in current efficiency is due to the oxidation of the ferrous sulfate to the ferric condition at the anode, by the oxygen liberated. The resulting ferric sulfate diffuses over to the cathode and there dissolves copper from the cathode according to the chemical equation Cu + Fe2 (SO4)3 = CuSO4 + 2FeSO4. This copper, which has been deposited at the cathode by the electric current, is thus redissolved by the Fe2(SO4)3. The solution of the copper causes at the same time a formation of FeSO4 which in turn diffuses over to the anode and is there oxidized to Fe2(SO4)3; and so the cycle continues, using electric current without rendering useful work.

E. H. Larison has noted that a definite amount of ferric salts must be reduced to the ferrous condition before all the copper will remain on the cathode; he does not state, however, just what this point is. L. Addicks has plotted the relation between current efficiency and ferric sulphate content. The existence of the results scattered the points more or less, although the decrease in current efficiency with increased ferric sulphate content is clearly indicated. E. T.Kern has likewise noted that the smaller the amount of copper in the solution, the greater is the reduction of current efficiency.

In this work, therefore, it was desired to determine what amount of ferric iron was permissible in a copper sulfate solution of definite concentration before the current efficiency would drop to zero, and what, if any, was the effect of definite Cu:Fe’’’ratio upon the current efficiency of the electrolysis.

Included in

Metallurgy Commons