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Copper cathode experiment

  1. Jul 31, 2014 #1
    Hi. I am a complete novice working on my first backyard experiment.

    I have a 1part sulphuric acid 4parts tap water pregnant leach solution (from old copper mine tailings).

    If I were to set up an electrolysis type experiment with a lead anode and a copper cathode should I expect all the metals (i.e. copper, iron, cobalt) in the solution to be deposited onto the cathode?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I don't think so. Copper, yes, but you have plenty of hydrogen to reduce before seeing these metals depositing.

    Do you know what reactivity series is? While it is only approximate in many ways, it should give you a starting point.
  4. Aug 1, 2014 #3
    Thanks Borek. Much appreciated!

    Do you mean that copper is the only metal that might deposit in that experimental set up if the hydrogen count was right?
  5. Aug 2, 2014 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Yes, that's why we use electrorefining for copper purification.

    Note that some other metals (like silver) will deposit on the electrode as well (assuming it is present in the solution). It depends on where they are on the reactivity scale.
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