Temperature monitoring and flow estimation in electrolytic cells using wireless harsh environment sensors
Morales, Anibal S.
López Valenzuela, Roberto
Saavedra Rodríguez, Francisco
Pino, Esteban J.
Wiechmann, Eduardo P.
DescriptionArtículo de publicación ISI
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Proper control of temperature and electrolyte circulation flow is mandatory in electrolytic cells to produce dense and high-purity cathodes. The electrochemical kinetics of cells is inherently dependent on these electrolyte variables. Continuous monitoring of electrolyte condition allows enhancing cathode quality, electrodeposition time, better utilization of electrolyte additives, early identification of temperature excursions, and electrolyte flow blockages. Abnormal cell conditions can produce excessive evaporation, higher energy consumption, anode passivation that impair cathode production in copper electrorefining, and safety issues because the production of flammable hydrogen in copper electrowinning. Therefore, the monitoring of changes in temperature and electrolyte flow can give critical indicators of process deviations. With real-time information about electrolyte variables, it is possible to provide early warnings to face the wide variability of cell performance and safety conditions caused by electrolyte condition mismanagement. This paper proposes a noninvasive wireless sensor for monitoring the electrolyte temperature inside cells and estimates the electrolyte circulation flow through each cell simultaneously. The sensor design is suitable to highly corrosive sulfuric acid environments. The condition-monitoring sensor proposed is small in size, lightweight, and meets battery-free operation and nonsparking safety requirements. It uses an inductive link-based system for powering and a radio frequency-link for communicating. The result is a sensor that surpasses the features of standard instrumentation not suitable for electrolytic process monitoring.