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A new electrochemical process for making K2FeO4

By Scott Jenkins |

A new process for producing the oxidizing agent potassium ferrate (VI) (K2FeO4) can routinely generate multi-kilogram quantities per day, say scientists. Ferratec (St. Louis, Mo.; www.theincubationfactory.com) and partner Electrosynthesis (Lancaster, N.Y.; www.electrosynthesis.com) have licensed the process technology from Battelle (Columbus, Ohio; www.battelle.org) and are looking toward commercial-scale ferrate production. The common laboratory method for making the compound involves chlorination of ferric salts, a process that makes only gram quantities and has not been found to be scalable. The new process is based on an electrochemical cell with an iron anode in a strong caustic medium. As low voltage is applied, the cell produces K2FeO4 as a slurry, and hydrogen gas. The ferrate is removed continuously from the circulating electrolyte and isolated by solid/liquid separation. Recovered electrolyte is recycled back to the cell. Relying on electrochemistry rather than chlorination synthesis methods was a key technology development in assembling a viable process and enabling high yields, explain Bruce Monzyk and Mike von Fahnestock, process chemists and engineers at Battelle. The other key innovation, they say, was varying the power…
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