Reduction of magnetite to metallic iron in strong alkaline medium


This work focuses on assessing the feasibility of cathodic iron extraction from the magnetite based precursors. For this, electrochemical processes at Fe3O4/alkaline electrolyte interface were screened by cycling voltammetry. Based on these results, one obtained guidelines for selecting the conditions (i.e., potential and temperature) where efficient direct electrochemical reduction of magnetite ceramics to metallic iron occurs. Electrochemical conversion of relatively dense magnetite samples yields a polycrystalline Fe scale, formed at the surface of the magnetite pellet in direct contact with the bulk electrolyte. Still, the onset of slightly open porosity results in formation of intermediate layers with coexisting magnetite and metallic Fe; this is ascribed to gradual development of additional porosity, which promotes sample impregnation with the electrolyte, extends the effective electrochemically active area, and facilitates dissolution of soluble species in the inner pores. This is clearly demonstrated by transient response behavior, with remarkable increase in the current density. The key roles of porosity and effective Fe3O4/electrolyte area are also emphasized by the enhanced kinetics of electrochemical reduction observed for highly porous magnetite samples, with nearly homogeneous distribution of reactant (Fe3O4) and product (metallic Fe), without a clear surface scale of metallic iron. In this case, the final product is very porous and fragile. The conversion of highly porous magnetite samples also proceeds with much higher Faradaic efficiency compared to nearly dense ceramics. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.






Monteiro, JF; Ivanova, YA; Kovalevsky, AV; Ivanou, DK; Frade, JR

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This work was supported by the European Unions Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS) research program, under grant agreement RFSR-CT-2010-00002, FCT Investigator program (grant IF/00302/2012), project CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials (ref. UID/CTM/50011/2013), financed by COMPETE 2020 Programme and National Funds through the FCT/MEC and when applicable co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement, and by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), Portugal (SFRH/BD/68290/2010 and PEst-C/CTM/LA0011/2013).

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