Electrochemical removal of copper and zinc ions from synthetic solutions simulating drainage water flowing from abandoned mines was studied. A three-dimensional cathode was suitable for this purpose. Use of graphite felt electrodes in deoxygenated solution reduced the copper concentration
in the solution from 150 to less than 0.05 mg/cubic decimeter (dm3) with a current efficiency of 68%. For successful zinc removal, it was necessary to increase the pH of the solution to values ≥10 to suppress the parasitic hydrogen evolution reaction. At these conditions, the
zinc concentration in the solution could be reduced from 200 to 1.1 mg/dm3 with a current efficiency of 65%. Using a stainless steel wool cathode under identical conditions, a comparable current efficiency was achieved, but the outlet concentration of heavy metal ions increased
to 22.1 mg/dm3.
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