What Is Electrolytic Copper?

••• Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

Electrolytic copper has undergone refining or purification by electrolysis. Purification by electrolysis represents the easiest method of achieving purity levels of 99.999 percent in copper, according to Science Clarified.

Electrical Equipment

Electrolysis enhances the qualities of copper as an electrical conductor. Electrical equipment often contains electrolytic copper, according to Science Clarified. Copper also is easily drawn and formed into wires.

Copper Ores

Copper most commonly exists in chalcopyrite and sulphide ores. Silicate, sulfate and carbonate ores also contain copper. The low percentage of copper in these ores makes it necessary to concentrate them before electrolysis, according to Chemguide. The methods used to concentrate copper ores include heating in a furnace or reacting them with sulfuric acid.

Electrolysis of Copper

Electrolysis uses an anode that contains the impure copper that results from ore concentration. The cathode consists of pure copper, titanium or stainless steel. The electrolyte solution consists of copper sulfate, according to Science Clarified. An electric current causes copper ions from the anodes to enter the solution and become deposited onto the cathode. Impurities either fall away and form sludge or stay in solution. The cathode gets bigger as pure copper forms on it, while the anode shrinks.

Related Articles

How to Purify Gold
What Is Zinc Alloy?
What Is Red Oxide Paint?
How to Make an Electrode
How to Test Copper Purity
Refining Systems Used to Make Gold Bars
3 Different Forms of Brass
What Is Silver Alloy?
Hazards of Copper Sulfate
What Types of Alloys Are Used in Jewelry?
How to Test for Hydrochloric Acid
The Difference Between 10K & 14K Gold
The Effect of pH in Electroplating
How to Galvanize Metal
How to Remove Copper from Silver
Metal Composition of Coins
How to Dissolve Silver
Differences Between Malleable Iron & Cast Iron
Techniques for Copper Plating with Copper Sulfate Solution
What Is the Difference Between 10, 14, 18 & 24 Carat...