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Electrowinning Cell Fire (2 replies and 3 comments)

11 months ago
JohnnyD 11 months ago

I am interested in finding some anecdotal evidence of electrowinning cell fires and what caused it.
Has anybody come across some and where did it occur?

David Kano
11 months ago
David Kano 11 months ago

There have been several cases of EW cell fires in gold operations. Kaltails and KCGM had cell fires back in the 90's with both caused by poor electrical connections between the bus-bar leader cables and the cathode rails. The cell construction in each of these cases was ABS (the cells were manufactured by Allglass). The KCGM fire occurred at night and was caught on CCTV but fire response could not access the gold room and significant damage was caused with multiple cells damaged even though the fire started on only a single cell.

The were comprehensive investigations done into each of these fires and many changes made to reduce the fire risk for installations using ABS or fibreglass constructed cells.

Stainless steel cells have a lower fire risk but instances of cell fires have also occurred.

Depending on the EW process you are dealing with, the fire potential can be increased by gases generated from the anodic or cathodic reactions or from the electrolyte (if this is an organic).

If you have more specific information regarding your problem then I may be able to assist you with design changes to reduce the fire potential. 

11 months ago

Excellent information, exactly what I was looking for. Thanks

Victor Bergman
11 months ago
Victor Bergman 11 months ago

There are also other factors that can cause burning of the electrolytic cells:

  1. the cables are not tight very well
  2. the cells are under tension without solution
  3. even when the cells contain the solution, powering with high voltage and high amperage can cause burns +Best procedure is : put the amperage and voltage to zero, send the solution,and after 4 or 5 minutes put cells under tension and gradually increase the voltage and amperage
  4. When the cathode and anode are in contact
11 months ago

that is correct but have you witnessed the result of these things?

Victor Bergman
11 months ago

Not directly, no.

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