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How to Separate Rust Iron (Fe2O3) into Ferum/Iron and Oxygen?

  1. Mar 14, 2007 #1
    Greetings, i am assigned to do a project which requires us to do experiment on ways to separate the rusted iron into 2 elements which are Iron and Oxygen. Anyone have any idea about that?:bugeye:
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2007 #2


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    So it needs to be a practical experiment which you can perform and you need to produce Iron metal and Oxygen gas from the Iron (III) Oxide……hmmmm

    The first thing that comes to mind would be to do a single replacement reaction with the Iron Oxide and a more active metal (like Aluminum, for example), to produce the Iron metal and leaving another metal Oxide. You could then melt and electrolytically refine the metal oxide back to the original metal and in the process give off Oxygen gas.
    For example,
    Fe2O3 + 2Al --> 2Fe + Al2O3

    Al+3 + 3e- --> Al
    2O-2 --> O2 + 4e-

    But I suppose you could have cut the thermite process out and saved yourself a step by just melting and electrolysizing the Fe2O3 directly (if it wouldn’t decompose first), but neither Fe2O3 or Al2O3 melt at very reasonable temperatures, so this method isn’t too practical.

    Another method that comes to mind would be to use Carbon to reduce the Iron in the Iron Oxide back to its elemental state while producing Carbon Dioxide gas.
    2 Fe2O3 + 3 C --> 4 Fe + 3 CO2
    One could then collect this Carbon Dioxide gas and (using a plant’s photosynthetic abilities) produce Oxygen gas and some sugar….or some other method of breaking up the CO2 back into Carbon and Oxygen gas.
    I guess this isn’t too practical of an idea either.

    Getting the Iron metal back is relatively easy….it is getting the Oxygen back which is posing a problem in my ideas.
  4. Mar 16, 2007 #3
    Thanks for the answer.

    Thanks for the reply. I will go and try it out. Hopefully it will work out for me.
  5. Mar 19, 2007 #4
    But some plants release ethylene gas (C2H4) besides the oxygen and water vapor which may contaminate the sample. But unless you are using a dandelion or a plant with a fruit on it i wouldn't be too worried. If you use aluminum keep the temperature below 2204 degrees celcius because that could initate a thermite reaction and you can't put those out with water. Go do some research before you get into it too deeply.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
  6. Mar 19, 2007 #5


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    You could reduce the iron oxide with hydrogen at elevated temperature and capture the water generated. Simple hydrolysis of the water gives you oxygen and the hydrogen to recycle into your process.

    Google the Artemis Project.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2007
  7. Mar 20, 2007 #6
    Thanks. I will try the safer experiment.
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