Simulation and validation studies of impurity particle behavior in copper electrorefining

Weizhi Zeng, Michael L. Free, Joshua Werner, Shijie Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


A model based in COMSOL Multiphysics consisting of an electrorefining cell was utilized to simulate copper electrorefining. Concentration and electrolyte density profiles were generated as electrochemical simulation results. Fluid velocity field, particle trajectories, and particle distribution maps were generated to study impurity particle behavior in electrolyte. A three factor designed set of boundary conditions was used to determine the effects of inlet flow rate, temperature, and current density on impurity particle behavior in electrolyte and the associated distribution on the cross section (slice) 100 microns away from the front surface of the cathode during copper electrorefining. The number of impurity particles on the cross section was counted for each set of boundary conditions. The model data for impurity particle distribution was compared with measured impurity particle contamination at the cathode surface, and the results show a very good correlation, which suggests the model is reasonable. The model results show the three factors have significant effects on the number of impurity particles on the cross section. The impurity particle counts at the corner positions of the slice are much higher than those at the center position of the slice. Possible explanations for the simulation results are proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E338-E352
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number14
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by ECS.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrochemistry
  • Materials Chemistry


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