• platinum group metals;
  • reduction;
  • sodium formate


Zinc was used for the reduction of the platinum group metals (PGMs) in acidic effluents. Due to the increasing cost of zinc, sodium formate was investigated as an alternative reductant. In a base metal-containing acidic effluent, called diethylenetriamine barren, sodium formate was used to precipitate the PGMs. This effluent was the filtrate obtained after a precipitation procedure had been used to remove rhodium and iridium. It was found that pH 1.5 was the optimum starting pH for sodium formate reduction. The pH increased to approximately 4.5 after the addition of sodium formate. The optimum concentration of sodium formate was found to be 30 g dm−3 at a temperature of 100 °C where the process time was 6 h. Platinum and palladium were the most effectively reduced PGMs, both exhibiting an average precipitation efficiency of greater than 99%. Difficulty was experienced with the precipitation of iridium (average precipitation efficiency of 76%). The precipitated PGMs readily dissolved in hydrochloric acid (6 M) and sodium chlorate (2%). A reduction in costs resulted from the discontinuation of the use of zinc for reduction purposes. An additional advantage was that zinc was no longer introduced into the PGM refinery circuits.

© 2001 Society of Chemical Industry