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Title: Electrolysis of a molten semiconductor

Metals cannot be extracted by electrolysis of transition-metal sulfides because as liquids they are semiconductors, which exhibit high levels of electronic conduction and metal dissolution. Herein by introduction of a distinct secondary electrolyte, we reveal a high-throughput electro-desulfurization process that directly converts semiconducting molten stibnite (Sb 2S 3) into pure (99.9%) liquid antimony and sulfur vapour. At the bottom of the cell liquid antimony pools beneath cathodically polarized molten stibnite. At the top of the cell sulfur issues from a carbon anode immersed in an immiscible secondary molten salt electrolyte disposed above molten stibnite, thereby blocking electronic shorting across the cell. In conclusion, as opposed to conventional extraction practices, direct sulfide electrolysis completely avoids generation of problematic fugitive emissions (CO 2, CO and SO 2), significantly reduces energy consumption, increases productivity in a single-step process (lower capital and operating costs) and is broadly applicable to a host of electronically conductive transition-metal chalcogenides.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States). Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AR0000047
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA (United States). Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE
OSTI Identifier:
1362107