Date: September 30, 2002
Creator: Brown, Craig W.
Description: A low-temperature aluminum smelting process being developed differs from the Hall-Heroult process in several significant ways. The low-temperature process employs a more acidic electrolyte than cryolite, an alumina slurry, oxygen-generating metal anodes, and vertically suspended electrodes. Wetted and drained vertical cathodes are crucial to the new process. Such cathodes represent a significant portion of the capital costs projected for the new technology. Athough studies exist of wetted cathode technology with Hall-Heoult cells, the differences make such a study desirable with the new process. This project is such a study. In Phase 1, titanium diboride, zirconium diboride and composites of these with other materials were tested using a statistically useful test matrix. The materials were consolidated both by hot pressing and by a new method, plasma pressure compaction (P2C�). The materials were subject to controlled electrolysis tests under conditions of the low-temperature smelting process. Post-electrolysis characterizations included quantitative atomic analyses and electron microscopic examinations. These methods allowed evaluating the relative merits of the materials, and the mechanisms of their corrosion. Also, a few tests were performed to determine whether oxygen and carbon dioxide bathing vertically suspended cathodes exhibited different current efficiencies. In Phase 2, additional composite materials were fabricated with P2C�, ...
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